Category: Faith

We’re about to get some snow here in North Carolina, but my winter garden is ready for it. These pansies and violas are hardier than you think!

img_7960After seeing how hardy pansies and violas are around here (colorful blooms often popping through the snow), I decided to do something fun for the winter—a whole garden of them!

Cold weather means it’s garden dreaming time around here. Time to break out the seed catalogs, and a big piece of paper and crayons with Gracie, and imagine the possibilities. I’m so excited! I’m working on writing a Gardening 101 guide (especially for those who perhaps like me haven’t always had a green thumb!), and will be sharing our garden progress over @graciesgarden. Have you tried gardening? Interested in starting one? I’d love to hear!

img_7959My mom came in November (planting day was unseasonably warm!) to help us plant the winter garden. It was a ton of work, but I haven’t touched them since. Zero maintenance! : ) 

Here’s some Goal Gardening 101 for you. In order to grow something, the first steps are:

1. Pick good seeds. (Uncover your good goals here.)

2. Prepare your soil. (Break through the way you’ve always done things to get started on your goals.)

3. Get your hands dirty! That’s what we’re going to do together today with our goals! Ready?

Goals don’t happen just by thinking about them. You must make some decisions, get uncomfortable, and take action. But, there’s no need for perfect progress. What I’ve learned in the last six years of studying goal setting (and from being a personal trainer years ago) is that good things grow through imperfect progress. If you are reading this and already feel guilty for not having checked everything off your list so far this year, I have some encouragement for you: it’s okay. It’s not too late. You haven’t messed everything up. You are not behind. Little steps forward (with even a few steps backward along the way) add up!

img_6074Garden treasures from October – zinnias and cosmos.

I uncovered four goals for 2017, and I’m going to lay each one out for you along with my starting steps and some extra tips! If you read my Goal Setting Series, you’ll see I updated some of my goals with new steps and ideas. Good things grow over time, and with each step forward you take, the next steps become clearer.

Here is Goal 1 of 4!

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Goal 1: Read the whole Bible again. I did this once before, over the course of a year and a half. I didn’t use a fancy reading plan, I just looked at the number of pages in each book of the Bible, and divided them over the course of a year. I put the names of each book I was supposed to read during each particular week on my iCal calendar, and that’s how I stayed on track. It took me longer than I thought, but it was worth it! Every bit of my reading was worth it.

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Why? I want to grow my faith by going straight to the source—getting to know more about God Himself. I want to know more of the big picture of His story. I want my mind to be filled with light and truth, so I can live it.

The positive effect taking action on this goal may have on my life and others: When I am filled with truth, I am also filled with PEACE. I don’t worry as much or feel fear about my circumstances. This helps everyone around me (my family, team, friends) to feel steadfast calm too. I’ll know more of God’s wisdom to be able to walk in the light. As my faith grows, I’ll be able to share the fruit of my faith with my children and others. There are endless positive effects this goal could have!

How I will feel at the end of this year having made progress on this goal: Lord willing, peaceful, more assured, and more mature in my faith.

Starting steps:  1. Open the Bible and look at the lengths of each book again. 2. Open my iCal and plot out what I could realistically read each week. —UPDATE: I got an email from a blog reader, and I took her suggestion—I chose the Blue Letter Bible Chronological reading plan. I signed up for it using the YouVersion Bible App. I’m still adding it to my iCal for more accountability though! I made a whole new iCal calendar for my goals, and this has been so helpful! See below…

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3. Pray about having the diligence to complete my reading each week, not for the sake of completing it, but to grow closer to God. —DONE! 4. Use my monthly Tending List in my PowerSheets to track my progress and keep my goal in view at all times (I keep my Tending List out on my desk.).

How I will know I accomplished or made progress on this goal: I will, Lord willing, see the fruit of this goal in my life, and in turn in the lives of others.

Encouraging words: Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path. – Psalm 119:105 ESV

How I will celebrate at the end of 2017: I may not finish this by the end of this calendar year, but I will celebrate my progress by (UPDATED!) painting what I learned on a big canvas, and hanging it in our bedroom. I am excited thinking about painting the bigger picture and things that God taught me as I read! Whether I finish this by December 31st or not, I put this on my calendar to start on December 16th : ). Next step, get the canvas from Michaels with a 50% off coupon (which they almost-always have online!).

HOW I’M MAKING PROGRESS SO FAR: 1. If you’ve been following my Instagram stories, you know that I’ve been listening to the audio version of the reading plan using the YouVersion Bible app on my phone. (I love the ESV and NLT translation audio.) This has been a little tricky with three kids to watch in the mornings, but if I don’t finish listening in the mornings, I listen in the car on the way to pick up Grace from preschool, or I listen later at my desk. I’ve also considered using a physical Bible to highlight what I’m learning in a more concrete way, but I’m keeping this simple for now. I can easily access the Bible on my phone. 2. Thanks to another blog reader, I joined this Facebook group that has helpful commentary on the Chronological reading plan. 3. I made a hashtag to share and stay accountable in my journey! #2017TheYearOfLight

I’d love to hear: are you reading through the Bible this year? How are you feeling about it? What plan are you following? Are you using a physical Bible, or digital? I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

My second goal for 2017–run, and finally get back into weight training–is up next!

P.S. Want to start fresh with your faith, or grow deeper roots? I wrote this free Cultivating Faith Guide for you!

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Our marriage felt impossible to repair, so I tried fixing everything else. I would wake each morning thinking, What can I do, eat, or buy that will make me feel happy today?

– In the quest for a more organized life, I bought new pretty containers, planners, and pens.
– I loaded my shelves with books promising a formula for quick-fix happiness.
– Maybe getting fit would solve everything, so I purchased new running shoes and a gym membership.
– Perhaps more creativity would be the thing that brought me joy, so I got journals and craft supplies.
– When I felt emotionally drained, I reached to comfort food, social media, and shopping.
– I acquired new cookbooks, clothes, subscriptions, throw pillows, and plants.

Those poor plants. I’ve killed a lot of plants in my life.

But the most life-changing things in life aren’t things.

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God’s grace is real and it transforms our mess into rich growing ground.

To help you grow your faith, I’ve created a FREE Cultivating Faith E-book that you can get by signing up here. Inside, you’ll find a recording of my Cultivating Faith Live Webinar, where I share 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! You’ll also get free scripture cards to download, and much more. Yes, it’s FREE because this is what I needed back when I had no idea where to start. I hope it all encourages you. Feel free to share it with friends too!

And now for something I’m really excited about – The Cultivating Faith GIVEAWAY! Are you ready for this? Here’s what’s included:

*Winners! Please email Jess – Jess@LaraCaseyShop.com with your mailing address and she will get your goodies to you! : ) Congrats, everyone!

1. A 2017 Prayer Journal from Val Marie Paper // Amy Campbell
2. Illustrated Faith Bible Journaling Kit by Shanna Noel // Morgan Dinecola
3. An 8×10 print from the NapTime Diaries Shop (soon to be Amen Paper Company!) // Lauren Ashbaugh Wilt
4. A copy of A Confident Heart by Renee Swope // Andi Justice
5. A copy of Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst // Ivana Andrews
6. A canvas from Lindsay Letters Shop // Britany Nobles
7. The Proverbs Study from SheReadsTruth // Veronica Hummel
8. Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis // Krystal Brown
9. Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin // Lisa Burger
10. An NIV Journaling Bible // Amanda Griffin
11. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis // Jenny Jones
12. The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones // Glenda De Hoyos
13. A copy of Make It Happen by yours truly :) // Jennifer Kay Casey
14. A full collection of Write The Word from the Lara Casey Shop // Michelle Graybeal
15. A copy of the In The Wait study by Holly Holt // Karen Cottrell

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One of my favorite items in the giveaway are our Write the Word journals. We made this quick video for you this week to show you how I use mine!

There are lots of ways for you to enter, and we can’t wait to get some of my favorite resources in your hands!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

There are 15 prizes, which means 15 chances for you to win! Your odds are good. Giveaway ends August 31st. Winners will be announced on September 1st here on the blog, so be sure to come back and check to see if you won! Shipping some of these items can get costly, so hard goods are for US entrants only. If you don’t claim your prize within 48 hours, another winner will be selected, so mark your planners and stay posted! : ) 

 

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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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It’s okay to be average. It’s okay to love something and not be the best at it. It doesn’t mean you or your gift are worthless because you aren’t the “best.” It’s okay if your talent or passion isn’t a business. And it’s okay if your business isn’t the “best” either!

its okay to be average lara casey

I caught myself comparing my business to a friend’s last Friday. I said to Ari, “Her business is probably doing better than mine…”

Re-writing a book has been [insert all the antonyms of “easy”]. I’ve been sitting here at my computer, battling with words and insecurities. “Why is this so hard for me? I wish I could write books like her… ”

How could I write about friendship when I’m not perfect at it? “I’m not an expert—why try?”

In my own kitchen, “Sorry dinner is too spicy, and that we have the same things every week. I’m not the best at doing family dinners.”

Ari stopped me:

He prayed for God to give me lots of words.

He ate every bite of dinner.

And to my comment comparing my business to someone else’s, he said this: “Lara, money envy is usually pride.

Truth.

Oh, truth!

It hits hard, and it shatters the lies.

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We miss so much feeling like we have to be an expert or better than everyone else, don’t we?

I shared in my weekly Facebook Live yesterday about the freedom found in being “average” and the lies we believe that keep us from that freedom.

We falsely believe we have to:

do it all

have it all

be an expert

be better than someone else

be the best

have it all together

And if we aren’t, or don’t, we hesitate.

We don’t move forward.

We don’t send it, say it, do it, or surrender.

We just sit in the lies.

An email landed in my inbox this morning, and It made me see I’ve been believing another one lately. I didn’t know I needed the words I’m about to share with you till they left me in a puddle of tears here at my desk. With her permission, I’m sharing an excerpt. I hope these words encourage you too.

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Dear Lara,

I know you have believed lies friend.

We all have.

You know what though?

You also have listened to truth.

Just look back.

Look at your marriage. You listened and pressed into the truth.

Look at your walk with Jesus. You listened to truth and have grown so much.

Look at Ari. He knows Jesus sweet friend.

You might have listened and operated under some lies, yet you have listened to truth as well.

You have listened to the voice of your Savior, and you have obeyed.

Goodness that is some ripe, rich, healthy fruit.

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What if…

What if Grace’s big emotions, the struggle to connect with Sarah, and massive delay and starting over on your book have nothing to do with what you have done wrong.

Friend, what if all of this is about what you have done right??!!

What if your faith and your little by little has made you braver than you think?

What if your obedience has shown God that He can trust you with more?

Satan wants you to feel naked and shamed in your exposure of humanness. Yet the Bible says something totally different.

Genesis 2:25 says, “The man and his wife were both naked and they felt no shame.”

God fully intended for us to be exposed without shame. 

Only Satan tells us to hide.

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I’ve been believing the lie that God isn’t faithful. I don’t say it, but I sure am acting like it lately. How easily I forget what He has done! I certainly don’t think I’ve listened as much as I should, or that I’ve done much right, but my friend encouraged me to see that His ways are always better than mine, and His ways lead to new life.

My marriage.

My children.

My business.

My words.

My friends.

All of it, changed by truth.

I can take zero credit for the change in my life, but we are given a choice: believe the lies, or listen to the truth and try our best—through all our imperfections and times we plain old mess up. (Allllll the time for me!)

Lord, may I keep choosing truth over lies, and surrender over striving to be the best. And when I don’t, may I remember that your grace gives me freedom. Freedom from striving, performing, or having to be the best. It’s okay to be average. Like Moses, you don’t need me to be perfect to use me. You don’t call me to be the best, you just want my surrendered heart and hands.

And I’m so glad You aren’t done with me yet.

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How to overcome insecurity _ Lara Casey

Ever feel like everyone has it all together but you? I do. Lately this thought has been swirling in my head. But, here’s how I am evicting that lie out of my life, and how you can too:

1. Name it as a lie. Everyone else “having it together” is not true. I was just texting with a group of friends about our businesses, mothering, and hearts having various challenges right now. I wish I could add all of you to that text group so you could see that we are ALL in this together. Consider this post my group text to you : ) No one has it all together. They just don’t. That is freeing. And even if they did, it doesn’t mean they are more valuable than you and your unique assignment on this earth.

2. What does “having it together” mean anyway? Define the lie and the truth. The lie: I have to have the perfect plan and perfect results or I’m a failure. False. The truth: To me, having it “together” means I don’t have to do it all. It means trusting in God, doing my best to love well, and making little by little progress forward on the things that matter, even if I mess up along the way–at least I’m on the way there!

3. Consider that you are exactly where you are supposed to be, mess and all. When I really think about it, I wouldn’t trade my challenges right now because they are teaching me valuable lessons. They are refining me. They are making me closer to God and to Ari and to my family and friends and my team. If I had no struggles, I would stay the same. And I know that’s not what God wants of me. This is my season of sitting in the tension. A season of change.

You don’t have to have it all together to have value, and you are not alone.

Fruitful Summer 2016

So, with that, I’m excited to announce that Fruitful Summer is on! Last summer, thousands of you joined me from Tulsa to Tokyo to learn how to cultivate community, embrace awkward, and make meaningful relationships happen–no perfection required. Five weeks of practical and simple tips, printables, worksheets, and lots of surprises. Sign up for free at FruitfulSummer.com! Let’s do summer together!

Lara Casey - Make it happen - westmeetssouth

Photo above by WestMeetsSouth. Love seeing the Make it Happen book in there!

More thoughts on my original Instagram post here.

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