Category: Faith

You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. – Jim Rohn

Wow! Does that hit you like it does me? Every time we talk about this concept at the Making Things Happen Conference, it changes us.

Those five people could be family members, friends, or even people on social media you’ve never met. The people and things we allow into our lives the most have a profound effect on our thoughts—and our future outcomes. This is one of the many reasons I’m grateful to have you, the Cultivate What Matters family, as a collective one of my “five!”

I am passionate about encouraging you, but you encourage me to live out what matters a hundredfold. (Your support last week was a gift!)

You fight alongside me each day to pay attention to what matters—what lasts. You are living this out! I read every comment and message, and I love following your journeys. You inspire me to say no to distractions and keep my eyes focused on truth.

You are encouragers—helping to build women up right where they are. Case in point: how you welcomed our two new team members, Ashlea + Jordan, to the Cultivate family last week!

Get to know each of us—and what we do—here.

You are strong and capable and ready for the second half of the year, even when you feel like you have no idea what you are doing.

And you don’t mess around when it comes to taking action on goals that matter to you!

This month, you have taken first steps on mid-year goals and WOW! What a month this has been! I have loved doing live goal coaching with you, seeing so many lightbulbs go off as you continue to take those first steps.

Our Goal-Getters board and walls (!) are filled with YOUR names. And we’re still going—take a step forward on a goal that matters to you and we will put your name on the board! We want to cheer you on because little-by-little progress is worth celebrating. When one woman steps forward on something that matters to her, do you know what happens? It creates a ripple effect. You are world changers, friends!

I took my own steps forward this month too—specifically on two of my yearly goals that are related:

  1. Love the things above, not the things of the world: cultivating contentment in our children, clearing out the stuff and information overload, and generous and wise stewardship of what we’ve been entrusted with.
  2. Cultivate the fruit of the Spirit in motherhood: growing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control in their hearts by our family seeking after God Himself above everything else.

To move forward on these goals, I wanted to start “morning time” in our family: gathering the kids together at the table each morning to grow our faith and family bond.

I’ve been wanting to do this all year, but couldn’t figure out how to do it. There were a few logistical roadblocks. First, we didn’t have a table where everyone could sit together, spread out, and make a mess. We had the dining room table, but the chairs were not exactly kid-and-craft-friendly (ha!). When Ari and I moved into our house seven years ago, before we had kids, we bought white upholstered dining chairs. Not ideal for kiddos! We also didn’t have a time that seemed to work. And how could I keep all three kids’ attention for more than a few seconds together?

For months, I did nothing. I thought about it, but I couldn’t figure out how to move forward and make it work long-term. I wanted to make morning time a regular rhythm in our house, but these small logistical things seemed to stand in my way (which feels silly now looking back!). I did nothing—until I saw all of YOU making leaps forward on your goals this month, breaking through obstacles big and small.

You lit a fire under me!

I decided that, since we used our dining room table maybe once a month at most, this would be the place. Kids crafts and books would make a welcome centerpiece! : )

My first action step: I went to find a few boxes that I could use to fill with morning time supplies. I made a box for each kiddo and filled each with Write the Word for Kids journals, craft supplies, and a few books.

I made myself a box, too. Inside: my Write the Word journal, Bible, pens, and some homeschool books.

And… I bought these wipable indestructible chairs to replace the not-so-kid-friendly upholstered ones from IKEA that were falling apart anyway. Bonus: they came fully assembled.

Up next: It was time to give this morning time thing a try for the first time.

Starting new things for the first time can be tricky, right? Whether it’s starting a new routine in your family or starting a magazine, fear can try to stop us at the starting line.

What if it doesn’t work?

What if this fails?

How do you move forward on goals that matter to you when you feel fear?

First things first (and this is the key that most people miss!): break your goal down into itsy-bitsy tiny steps—the smaller, the more likely you are to DO them. Once you break your goal down, you may find that you can’t help but take action—fear has less of a hold on you because smaller steps aren’t as daunting. (For more on breaking goals down into mini goals, read here.)

In the big and small things, you get to choose: fear or faith.

Breaking it down helps you move from fear to I’m doing this!

I gathered all the kiddos at the table with some snacks (a tip I learned from my friend, Sally Clarkson—snacks make new things more appealing!), I prayed for us, and I read them a book while they colored.

That was it.

It lasted for 15 minutes and it. was. awesome.

This may seem so simple, but that’s exactly the point. Our first morning time at the table together, with the sun peeking in, was simple and beautiful and life-giving for all of us. One day led to two, two led to a week, and now we’re three weeks in. This daily rhythm has changed our family!

You know all those things you’ve always wanted to do?

Big or small, you should go DO them.

Starting morning time was important to me because I see how it will have a ripple effect in our family—and hopefully their own families—for years to come. Learning has happened at the table. Conversation has happened here. Togetherness has happened here. And it didn’t take any grand planning. Just a few intentional steps forward.

Cultivating what matters means doing small things that add up to the big things.

Thinking big picture, and taking small intentional steps forward.

I don’t have an agenda each time I sit down with them; I do what is best for that day and each of thier nurturing needs at that moment. Some mornings we read, some mornings we paint, some mornings we color, and on homeschool days, the other kiddos do whatever they like at the table while Grace and I work through reading, handwriting, and other activities. Sometimes the younger two end up playing legos on the floor, and sometimes we have music. We just go with it!

There are often interruptions and tantrums and challenges, too, but the “imperfections” are part of the blessing of this time. Part of the learning is working through big emotions and “I wanted the yellow crayon!” moments together. : )

This time (usually from 7:30-8-ish before I start work) lasts anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. How long we do it doesn’t matter as much as doing it with the right heart: to seek Him and delight in the creative gifts God has given each of us.

And it all began with one small step forward: I went to find boxes.

Sometimes, the hardest part of starting something is proverbially “putting on your shoes,” right? Once you take the first step, the momentum grows.

Our first day above—I was still waiting on the chairs to arrive, but we dove in anyway! 

Your turn! What one step forward have you taken—or plan to take—on a goal that matters to you? Leave a comment here with your one step and I’ll add your name to our office Goal Getters Board!

I hope my story encourages you to dig in and take the first step. You never know how that one step forward might change everything!

Up next, I’ll be sharing more practical ways I’ve taken action on these goals: 8 Ways to Infuse Scripture into Your Home. Look for that next week!

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Spring is here, but maybe you’re not feeling so springy. Spring brings new growth and forward motion, but maybe you just want to put the brakes on and start fresh. (I’ve been feeling it, too!)

Maybe you’ve been feeling overloaded and stuck.

Stuck in the expectations of others.

Stuck under a mountain of to-dos.

Stuck knowing there has to be something more.

Photo by Gina Zeidler

I know this feeling well. And here’s where we cultivators get to flip the script! There’s no need for shame or guilt about being stuck or overwhelmed. It doesn’t mean you are flawed; it means you have an opportunity.

There are inevitable times of overload in our lives that are bound to creep up—times of change or transition or times where there’s simply too much to do and not enough time to do it (are you feeling that?). These are opportunities to shift. Opportunities to say yes to what matters, no to what doesn’t, and to let God do the heavy lifting.

The most powerful way that I get unstuck in these times is to do the complete opposite of what the rest of the world tells us to do (and the opposite of my natural instinct!):

Instead of working harder, I surrender.

Instead of trying to do it all, I do what matters and let go of the rest. 

Instead of relying on my own strength, I rely on His.

Sound impossible? I know how you feel!

Practically speaking, this means I do two things:

1. I pray. I simply ask God, “Will you help me to Your path for me? Help me get unstuck, Lord.” No fancy words or elaborate prayers needed. Just tell God how you are doing and where you need help.

2. I get right into the Word. Now, I know the Bible can feel overwhelming and you might be wanting to check out right now, but getting into the Word is a lot easier than we make it seem.

I prayed one morning for God to give me a simple way to connect with him, right in the thick of it, and He led me to write out the Word. It was hard for me to focus on even a few sentences of the Bible in times of overload, and I needed a way to put the train brakes on and slow down when the last thing I felt like I could do was slow down.

The Write the Word Journal was born out of my own personal need for perspective in the inevitable storms of life–to see them as refreshing showers instead of the downpours they felt like!

You can use your own paper to write the Word if you like too–no journal required. Just grab whatever paper is near you and give this a try!

There’s something that happens in our brains that travels right to our hearts when we write out the living Word of God. Again, use whatever paper you have for this if you want to give it a try.

(You’ll get a great list of scriptures to try in the comments at the end of this post!)

Each day in the Write the Word journal, there’s a selection of key verses to write out (the “write the Word” part!), along with space to write your thoughts, prayers, or anything else God places on your heart.

I’m sharing about the journals today because they have been a powerful tool in the lives of many of my friends and because they are finally all back in stock (SO many people have been waiting for this day!), and because we decided to put them on sale this week to help you get started writing the Word. (Read on for a discount code.)

I have loved seeing how you write the Word–and especially how you use the On My Heart pages. We have seen you use those pages to write out prayers, to journal daily thoughts, to get creative and illustrate your faith or dig deeper into the scripture you wrote out, to write notes to or about your children, and to give all of the distractions in your heart a place to become untangled.

Mostly, like me, you love soaking in the powerful truth of every bit of the Word you write out.

This allows me to slow down (it doesn’t take a vacation or a whole hour away–just a few minutes adds up!) and get unstuck. Every word of the Bible is powerful. Even writing one verse, something shifts in me. It’s like planting a seed. I think about the big picture instead of the day-to-day to-dos. I am reminded that I am not in control; He is. 

To my long-time Write the Word friends, have you ever flipped back through to see what prayers you were praying that have been answered? What things were laid on your heart then that have since come to fruition? I’d love to hear!

The Write the Word journals, and EVERYTHING in the shop, are 25% off from now until April 2nd–no code needed for the 25% off. If you spend $100 or more, use code HAPPYSPRING at checkout for free domestic shipping.

Here’s a peek at each journal and what’s inside:

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! This is by far our most popular journal and sells out quickly.

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.

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.

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.

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.

We designed these to be used as a full collection to take you through each season. Order your ALL SEASONS COLLECTION and get 25% off an already discounted full collection (no code needed)!

SHOP THE ENTIRE WRITE THE WORD COLLECTION HERE

The Write the Word journals (and everything else in the shop!) are 25% off from now until April 2nd. Plus, use code HAPPYSPRING at checkout for free domestic shipping on orders over $100.

Write the Word is for everyone. It’s for the busy mom, wife, young professional, business owner, and student. It’s for the seasoned Bible-reader and for those opening their Bibles for the very first time.

Here are some thoughts from long-time Write the Word friends!

Suddenly my mornings involve scripture, reflection, and prayer…without any difficulty! I can fit this into any morning and the longer I keep the streak going of writing the Word, the more excited I get to dive even deeper and work through each different journal in my different seasons of life. – Kay

My family gathers around the table after dinner and we each get out our own Write the Word journal. When we are done we share our verses and talk with our kids about what these verses mean. – Meredith

The Write The Word journals have been such a blessing in my daily life. I can not imagine my day without them! – Rachel

Here’s to letting God turn our challenges into opportunities and to getting unstuck!

Your turn: I’d love to hear! What is your favorite verse in the Bible? Bonus points if you share why. These verses you share might be a great starting point to try writing out yourself!

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“The Bible feels overwhelming. I don’t know where to start.”

Perhaps you want to grow your faith, but it often feels daunting.

We sometimes feel like we are not equipped, prepared, or knowledgeable enough.

And then it goes a level deeper: we sometimes feel like we are too messed up. We’ve been too bad–too distracted, too inconsistent or imperfect. We have fallen off the faith wagon and have some bruises to show for it. We believe we’re not good enough.

So we don’t open the pages of the Bible at all.

But, there’s good news: you can start fresh. It’s not too late. You’re not too much or too little for the God who made the stars and petals on these flowers. Do you know what helps me find freedom in the mess of my tangled not-enough thoughts? Knowing that the Bible is big and rich with depth for a reason. And that God wants us to know Him. He will help us. God could have just given us one story (Job perhaps), but He didn’t. He could have made the Bible so quick to digest that, like most quick fixes, it may have gone in one ear and out the other. We wouldn’t need to seek His wisdom or continue learning. But, He didn’t create it that way, and I’m so grateful! He gave us a big book with lots of stories and wisdom because God knew we would need all of it on our unique paths.

God gave us a big Bible because He loves us.

And He loves us enough to help us understand it too!

With my work 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 direct way to connect with Him, right in the thick of it, and the Write the Word journal was born.

The Write the Word journal is unique. Each day, you’ll get a selection of key verses to write out (the “write the Word” part!), 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.

I have loved seeing how you write the Word–and especially how you use the On My Heart page! You all are so creative and intentional. We have seen friends use that page to write out prayers, to journal daily thoughts, to get creative and illustrate their faith or dig deeper into the scripture you wrote out, to write notes to or about your children, and here’s a recent favorite from two of the ladies I work alongside: to write letters to a future husband. How sweet and meaningful is that? Besides the ability to directly get into scripture, this is one of the reasons I love these journals: being able to customize them to your life. I use my On My Heart pages in a mix of ways: to Bible journal with Grace, write prayers, write notes about what I’m grateful for, and to praise the Lord for what I learned in writing the Word that day.

I created these journals because I needed them myself, and my biggest 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 April, and ever since, the most frequent question we get asked is, “When will Write the Word be back in stock?” You love the new collection and we are so grateful to have a fresh new shipment in our North Carolina warehouse now!

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

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 WRITE THE WORD 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!

How to Use Your Write the Word Journal from Lara Casey on Vimeo.

 

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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

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The Cultivate sticker book

The Cultivate sticker book

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She Reads Truth Bible

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Painting in the Bible!

Painting in the Bible!

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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:

bible-journaling-giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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I have a treat–and a first–for you today, friends!

In my upcoming book, Cultivate, I share something I have learned in the garden: “I always thought it was unattainable, this elusive thing called “balance.” But as I’ve observed my garden over the years, I have noticed something. In the seasons, we find balance. The seasons allow my garden to rest and grow at just the right times, and it’s the same with our lives. The seasons teach us how to do life well, revealing a life-giving rhythm: we flourish through intentional periods of stillness, growth, hard work, and rest. We need this rhythm in our days, in our weeks, and in our everything.” – Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional LifeAnd challenging seasons–seasons of doubt, grief, transition, and waiting–can become unexpected gifts.

My friend, Elizabeth Thompson, was a prayer warrior and great encouragement as I wrote Cultivate right in the middle of one of the hardest seasons of my life. I’ve known Elizabeth for many years and her husband played a part in helping Ari grow his faith. She also happens to be an incredible writer, and after reading her new book, When God Says “Wait,” I knew you would be blessed by her too. So, here’s a first on my twelve-year-old blog: a guest post!

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My seven-year-old holds up an apple core, eyes shining. “Mommy, I have decided to be a farmer.”

I raise an amused eyebrow. “Oh really?”

“Yes!” She is breathless with excitement. “I’m going to plant the seeds I got out of my apple”—she opens her palm, revealing a pile of shiny brown seeds—“and they are going to grow into trees so we can eat free apples and save money.”

I swallow my skepticism—Can you actually grow apple trees from seeds taken directly from an apple? Don’t they have to pass through a bird’s digestive tract or something disgusting like that?—and try to mirror her enthusiasm: “Oh, that sounds great, Sweetie! Let’s plant them in the pots out back.” But even as I speak, my heart gives a painful squeeze, because first: She knows I’ve been worried about money and she’s trying to help. And then: Please God let these seeds grow. I’d hate to see her disappointed.

So we head outside and Little Farmer presses her seeds into three pots on our back deck. And then we wait. And wait. And wait some more.

View More: http://ginazeidler.pass.us/sweetlarafeb2017

Meanwhile, life is happy but hard. We—my preacher husband, four young kids and I—are alone in a new town. We are struggling to start a church, find friends, forge a new life from nothing. Money is tight. The kids always sick. The rental house mildewy.

I feel stuck on pause, waiting to feel less lonely. Less inadequate. Less homesick. I’m waiting for life to change. Get better. Get easier. I pray, I read, I do my part—as much as I can figure out my part, anyway—and I wait for God to do His. I know He’s planted us here, I know He is doing things in us, growing things in us, but most days it’s hard to see.

Still the little apple seeds rest underground, hidden from view, and Little Farmer starts to get anxious: “Are my seeds growing? Is anything happening?” The first week, she keeps plucking the seeds out of the dirt to check their progress.

“Honey, you can’t take the seeds out once they’re planted,” I tell her, laughing. “They can’t grow if you keep bothering them. Seeds need time.”

Time.

Seeds need time.

View More: http://ginazeidler.pass.us/sweetlarafeb2017

The lesson hits me hard. I’m not sure if I want to laugh or cry.

God has uprooted me and my family and planted us in unfamiliar soil. He has initiated several beginnings in our lives—new church, new friendships, new baby, fast-growing kids, slow-growing careers—but right now there’s no evidence of growth.

Like my daughter, I’ve been impatient. I keep digging in the dirt, yanking up these seeds God has planted, holding them up to the light, scrutinizing them for sprouts, swelling, any sign of progress: Why are we still lonely? Why isn’t money getting easier? Why does my career feel stalled? Why is life so HARD?

But it’s too early yet. Whatever God is doing, it’s still small, still subtle, still internal—all invisible to the human eye. And I realize that the waiting, the inertia, the stalls, the in-between, it’s all part of God’s plan. Part of His process. I need to stop obsessing, stop trying to rush God’s methods. I need to stop pulling His seeds out of the dirt to study them. I need to relax and rest and let Him do His thing, as long as it takes.

And that’s not all. God hasn’t just planted seeds in my life—He has planted me. I myself am a seed. His seed. I am lying in the dark, covered in dirt. Waiting for God to reveal more of His plan, to grant relief and grace and growth to help us through this painful season. And a scripture springs to mind: “Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” (John12:24).

My Little Farmer’s seeds need their time in the darkness. Their time to wait for death—the moment they cease becoming seeds so they can become something bigger. Something better. If they aren’t buried, if they don’t die, they’ll never be reborn. They’ll stay stuck—forever dormant, forever seeds.

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But I’ve been fighting it, the burial, the darkness, the death. I want out. I want light. I want fruit. I don’t want to be an inconsequential seed facing death and change and transformation. In fact, I don’t want to be a seed at all—I want to go straight to being a tree, tall and impressive and fruitful.

But I’m not a tree yet—in fact, I’m not even a sprout. And there’s nothing I can do to skip all the steps between. There is a growth process, one God designed with infinite wisdom and care. Against my will, I realize, I have to trust His process.

And that means being okay with waiting.

It means being okay with burial, with periods of darkness and confusion. Times of frustration—I can’t find the guy, can’t catch a break, can’t get pregnant. Times of disappointment—I can’t find a friend, can’t conquer debt, can’t kick this weakness. Times of heartbreak—I can’t turn back time, can’t move back home, can’t bring back my little lost baby.

It means being okay with death—dying to my old ways, my own plans, my old self (Luke 9:23–25)—because one of these days, God will turn death to life.

One warm afternoon, my Little Farmer sprints into the house shrieking: “My seeds are growing, my seeds are growing!” The whole family rushes outside and sure enough, nine baby sprouts are nudging out of darkness, reaching for light.

The family cheers and I’m pretty sure God is having a chuckle at my expense. The little apple seeds have made it—survived their days in the dark, their first small death—and God, wise Designer, gentle Farmer, has called them forth. Brought life from death. The little seedlings have many difficulties ahead—autumn is coming, then winter and frost—but their first hurdle has been conquered. Their first wait has ended. And I know my time in the light is coming, too. I’m not sure when, but these seeds give me hope.

I don’t know what you are waiting for, what you are suffering through—growing through—but I pray you find comfort in these words. Hope. Even when we are suffocating in darkness, staring down death, we can take heart knowing that a good Farmer is watching over us.

In His time and with His help, we will see growth and hope and light again. If we’ll stop checking for progress and make peace with His process—more, if we can find comfort in the Farmer’s great love for us—then one day, like my Little Farmer’s seeds, we will unfurl from the dirt and stretch in the sun. We will laugh in His light. And the Farmer will continue to protect us, prune us, and nurture us until we grow tall and strong, bearing seeds and fruit of our own.

Whew!!! Friends! Didn’t that bless your socks off? Thank you, Elizabeth!

Elizabeth Laing Thompson is the author of When God Says “Wait”: Navigating Life’s Detours and Delays Without Losing Your Faith, Your Friends, or Your Mind. She writes at LizzyLife.com about finding humor in holiness and hope in heartache. Elizabeth lives in North Carolina with her preacher husband and four spunky kids, and they were totally worth the wait. You can find her on Facebook and Instagram.

I’d love to hear your thoughts! Are you in a season of waiting? What is God teaching you in this season? What do you hope He will grow in you?

Photos in the garden by Gina Zeidler

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