Category: Fruitful Summer

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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!

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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!

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The blueberry patch near our house has been here for over thirty years, and these bushes keep making sweet fruit. Our friend, Wanda, tends to them little by little, and keeps them well-pruned.

If Wanda let the bushes grow grow grow, the fruit wouldn’t get as sweet. The nutrients would be spread thin.

Are you feeling that way lately? Are your relationships in need of revival?

We learned how to embrace awkward, and now we’re going to learn how to tend to relationships little by little, and simplify our time. When we do, sweeter fruit is going to grow.

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1. Lean In To the Power of Little By Little.

Little by little, you learned how to do what you do, whether it’s a creative skill, motherhood, or your vocation. Little by little, peaches ripen on trees. Little by little, ingredients are added into a bowl to make cake batter. It’s the same with our friendships and marriages. Little by little, meaningful relationships are cultivated. One small seed planted today can grow into a towering tree years from now. The little by little adds up. If we strive for overnight results, we might miss the good fruit that waits for us in the process—the growing part.

What one little itsy bitsy seed can you plant today in a friendship?

Maybe it’s as simple as asking a second question, or finally reaching out to set up that coffee date you keep talking about, or sending a quick text message to ask, “How are you today?”

Deeper friendships don’t have to come from huge acts of affection, but by constant little by little tending. Take little by little action today!

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2. Prune to Make It Sweeter.

We cannot do it all and do life well. Let that settle in your heart for a moment. We cannot do it all and do it all well, but we can choose a few things and grow them intentionally. Choose one area of your life to prune. Maybe it’s your schedule, your finances, your closet, or your inbox that feels overgrown. Read my blog post on simplifying for some inspiration, and write down ONE thing you are going to let go of, simplify, or cut to make room for what matters.

Simplify your focus with PowerSheets, simplify your home with my friend Emily’s Simplicity Challenge, simplify your spending with Nancy’s Contentment Challenge, tackle your inbox with Unroll.Me, and decide if you need to prune your social media accounts (I quit Periscope and Snapchat earlier this summer!)

3. Dig Under the Surface.

Vulnerability changes things. But, in order for vulnerability to happen, there rst has to be a foundation of trust. What do you think? How have you grown to trust friends in the past or how would you build trust now? Whatever your answer is, do those things for others. For me, that means listening well, praying for my friends, admitting my mistakes (and that I’m not perfect!), being willing to share my struggles, and being curious about the other person’s heart. It means being willing to take risks and ask meaningful questions. Dig under the surface and ask others what you would want them to ask you.

Stay tuned for my final Fruitful Friendship tips! Three easy ways to celebrate friendships!

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Five Easy Ways to Grow Meaningful Friendships

I spent far too long believing that I wasn’t good at friendship. I was “too busy,” too stressed, inconsistent, forgetful, and I had a lot of fear. I realized I was chasing “perfect” in friendships, and that was holding me back from making any connections at all. As my friend Em says (pictured here with me), “I will hold myself to a standard of grace, not perfection.”

That’s what Fruitful Friendship is all about.

You don’t have to be perfect.

You don’t have to have it all together.

It’s our imperfections that authentically connect us.

Last summer, thousands of women, from Tulsa to Tokyo, joined with me from all over the world to give this Fruitful Friendship thing a try. And you know what? It worked!

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Here’s what we learned: We didn’t have to hold ourselves–or others–to a standard of perfection; we just had to do our best to love well through all our flaws and mess. Living in my imperfections and allowing others the freedom to do the same has helped me cultivate fruitful relationships. Fear of not being perfect, not fun enough, too introverted, awkward in conversation, too broken — I know these fears well. These are things we’re going to talk about openly and tackle for the next five posts together. Let’s join together to let go of “perfect” and start some real connections. I don’t know about you, but I am so ready.

So….

How do you embrace awkward and put yourself out there to find friends?

How make existing relationships more joyful and meaningful?

And how do you do this if you are forgetful, busy, and imperfect (like me!)?

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Photo by Olivia Wolf of Nancy Ray Photography

Here are Five Easy Ways to Grow Meaningful Relationships—no perfection required! Much more to come in the next four posts too. Let’s do this!

1. Let go of friendship guilt. Friends overlook our broken fences and admire our gardens. You don’t have to be perfect to have meaningful friendships. Let’s let our friends—and ourselves—off the guilt hook and start fresh. When I think of the most rooted relationships I have, those friendships grew because we let ourselves be imperfect in front of each other. We let each other into the mess. Sometimes that meant literally saying, “I am not a perfect friend, but I want to have a closer friendship with you.” Sometimes it meant choosing forgiveness and believing the best about the other person. And sometimes it meant I needed to take the friendship guilt and (hard advice here but it’s true…) do something about it. Maybe I was being neglectful in our friendship and needed to talk to my friend about why. 100% of the time, my friends are relieved when I share these feelings, because chances are they were feeling them, too! Our imperfections, come to find out, are what connect us together.

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2. Be the invitation. We all say it: “We should get together sometime.” [Insert month-long pause.] Don’t wait for the invitations to come to you; be the invitation! Whoever came to mind first when you read that, choose that person and finally get together. Send one invite to a friend—or a group of people—and keep it simple and fun. It doesn’t have to be the perfectly planned for the conversation to be meaningful. Fruitful Friendship doesn’t happen without getting together with your friend.

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3. Name your people. Ask yourself these questions:

Who do you want to grow closer with?
Which relationships do you want to grow and intentionally tend to?

Remember, real connections happen little by little.

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Use our Friendship Tending List in the Guide linked at the bottom, and be intentional about spending time with the people on your list!

4. Make a list of Fruitful goals and adventures you want to try! Use the Fruitful Goals List (available in the FREE Guide at the bottom), or create your own like I did with Grace. Hang it in a place where you’ll see it every day. We hung ours in our kitchen above the table where Grace colors and eats her breakfast each morning.

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5. Don’t let life live on a list—get out there! After you’ve filled out your list, pull out your planner and let your Fruitful friendships come to life. Write action items on your schedule: dates you’ll check in with specific friends, tending tasks, and adventure you’re going to try. Don’t let your life live on a list—make it happen!

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One of the things on our list was to have a playdate with a friend. Last week, we invited her over and baked dinosaur cookies. From start to finish, all it took was me texting her mom to schedule a time, this easy recipe, and sprinkles!

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Okay…. there’s much more to come in the next four posts! AND there’s a whole FREE Fruitful Friendships Guide that you can get below.

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It’s loaded with printables, tips, advice, and much more!

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.

Stay tuned for the rest of my Fruitful Friendship tips. Up next, how to let go of perfect and embrace an imperfect summer!

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