Category: Giveaway

‘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

Bible Journaling with Kids

http://BiblejournalingwithGrace

Bible journaling with Grace

http://TheCultivatestickerbook

The Cultivate sticker book

http://SheReadsTruthBible

She Reads Truth Bible

http://PaintingintheBible!

Painting in the Bible!

http://SheReadsTruthBible

She Reads Truth Bible

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

P.S. DaySpring just sent me a coupon code for Illustrated Faith supplies just for you! Get $10 off any $30 purchase plus free shipping with code LARA10 at checkout. The code is good now through this Friday 6/23. : ) 

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We get one shot at this life. We can waste it on things that are fleeting or we can GRAB THIS LIFE BY THE HORNS. This is not motivation. This is truth. If you’re reading this, you have breath. You have decisions in front of you. You can take huge leaps of faith to love, to give, and to spend yourself well or…. you fill in the blank.

You know all those things you’ve always wanted to do? You should go do them.

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What is that thing for you (and what has been holding you back from doing it)?

Need to get motivated, refresh your goals, or a get kick start? Catch the free replay of my one-hour Summer Goals webinar that will inspire and equip you. You’ll learn the top 10 keys to making good goals happen, practical tips, and ways to get–and stay—motivated. Best of all, this is grace-filled goal setting. No perfection, striving, or perfect track-record required. This powerful hour will help you focus on progress, not perfection.

And to encourage you in your summer goals and in making fruitful friendships, I have an amazing giveaway for you today. Are you ready for this?

Welcome to the Ultimate Fruitful Summer Giveaway! We brainstormed all the things we would want to have an intentional and joy-filled summer, and we’re giving all of these things away to one lucky winner. This summer prize bundle includes everything you see here including our NEW Fruitful Friendships Workbook, a fresh set of PowerSheets, our new Fruitful Summer encouragement postcards, and even a copy of my upcoming book!

Enter below…

fruitful summer giveaway

The lucky winner will be selected at random. U.S. entrants only as shipping costs are prohibitive on some of these things. (Thank you to all my international friends for understanding! I wish I had a plane to come deliver these items to you myself!). 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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This is the story of a girl who was teased about her hair.

So, she tried to fix it.

She did what all the cool kids in the 80’s did and she permed her already curly hair. Not only was it fried and more frizzy than before, but her hair now smelled like a chemical factory. And it was slightly green.

Somewhere in the 90’s, when she was in high school, people started ironing their hair. Like with an actual iron.

And then, come the 2000’s, every time she went to a salon to get a quick hair cut, the stylist would try to convince her to get an expensive all-day hair straightening treatment to strip away any sign of her curls. She didn’t ever get one, but she considered it.

Apparently, curly hair was something to hide, so she did. Unknowingly, along with hiding her hair, she hid a part of who she was created to be.

Until one day when she came undone.

She is me.

I woke up one day, in the middle of a very challenging season (the whole story is in my upcoming book, Cultivate) and felt tired of fixing my hair. Always putting it up or straightening it. Trying to control my curls, which was a mirror to trying–fruitlessly–to control my life.

That morning, I washed it and just let go.

View More: http://ginazeidler.pass.us/sweetlarafeb2017Photos by my amazing friend, Gina. We had so much fun making these together!

Grace played with my hair that night, wrapping my curls around her fingers, putting bows in my locks, and simply wanting to touch my hair. Something clicked. I woke up and let it go again. And again. Each day, I felt more free. It wasn’t about a hairstyle, it was about letting go of what years of feeling imperfect had done to me. It was about finally expressing gratitude for the way God created me. If I wanted Grace to live loved, I was going to have to show her how, and live it myself.

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

Embracing my curls has been life-changing for me. Apparently, I’m not alone in this desire to embrace what God has given us. It’s not about hair; it’s about our hearts.

Soon after letting my hair down, I discovered Scott Musgrave, a curly hair artist who happened to live right down the street from me. I emailed Scott to see if he might be able to give me a curly cut, and it turned into an amazing friendship. I asked Scott to share some of his best advice, and I think you’ll be inspired!

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

First, what would you say to curly girls who are afraid to let their hair down?

Scott: Our whole lives we’ve been mistreated and misinformed by the hair industry. So we are skeptical. These feelings are understandable. Most stylists have a ‘fix it’ mentality that they pass on to us. When someone says they know how to work with curly hair, that often means, “I know how to fix, flat iron, and Brazilian blowout your curly hair.” So, I recommend you find a curly hair artist. Take a faith step and make the trip to see someone who has great training. The esteem and confidence you get when you are correctly informed and treated properly can be life-changing. When you experience an ‘embrace it’ service experience – that helps you embrace who God made you to be –  it’s a shift in dignity that goes deep into your Spirit. Call most salons and THEY ALL say they know how to work with curly hair. So your next question should be, “Where did you get your training and what method do you use?”Listen to see if they will embrace your hair or if they want to fix your hair. Another option is to go in for a curly set, an appointment where a trained stylist will teach you about your hair and how to make it look nice curly. THEN set up an appointment for a cut if you like what you learned. Read reviews, read testimonies, look at their before and after photos, and research their hair philosophy on their website and social media platforms.

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

What products are best for curly hair, and how do you apply them?

Scott: Ingredients in a product tell me a story of your hair getting worse over time or getting better over time. My method works with any product line, but good ingredients will improve your hair over time. Bad ingredients dry out hair, create breakage and thin hair out over time. If this has happened to you from using bad ingredients then:

1) First, detox your hair and remove the build up.

2) Conditioner is the most important product for hydration and to reduce frizz.

There is no need for shampoo. Harsh detergents are harmful to hair. You can cleanse with conditioner (called “co-washing”), and get rid of build up every few months with some vitamin c powder (detox) massaged into your hair in the shower (if you are using bad ingredients). Go to my website and do a word search for ‘Detox’ for how to do this. Once you learn about water soluble products, you will no longer need to detox after that. 

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

So, what products should you use? It depends on where you live and your hair type. Dryer climates might cause you to need a cream-based product. Humid climates might call for glycerine and aloe-based products.

In general, here is what I recommend:

Cleanser: Innersense, Jessicurl and Long Hair Don’t Care*

Conditioner (hydrates to reduce frizz): Innersense*, Jessicurl

Filler (fills porosity to reduce “halo”):  Innersense Quiet Calm Curl Control*. 

Sealer: Foam or Gel (creates curl formations): Innersense, Mop Top, Jessicurl, DevaCurl*. 

* marks the products I (Lara) use!

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

Filler and Sealer application: Instead of towel-drying your hair when you get out of the shower, leave it sopping wet or somewhat drippy – experiment with both. And instead of scrunching product into your hair, do what’s called ‘roping’. Flip your head over and use a small quantity on your fingers and palms as you run your hands down your hair like you are flattening out ropes AND by squeezing product into your hair instead of coating your hair. This creates even product application, which creates dependability and manageability. Wait till hair is completely dry before you scrunch it out–hair is not supposed to live crunchy but nice and soft.

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

How in the world do people go multiple days without having to wash their curly hair?

Scott: Don’t touch your hair much or when you do and it may create a bit of expanded frizz. If you are using water soluble products, you can learn to reactivate products in your hair with water and a spray bottle with a bit of conditioner left in. It takes some practice to learn this but it is so worth it. Silicone and oil based products do not respond well to water – but water soluble products do reactive nicely with practice. Spray bottle misting and then putting your hair up in a Pineapple at night reforms your (long enough to go up) waves and curls to then take out of Pineapple and tweak in the morning (or after working out or in the garden) with a bit of water or conditioner – or both- to reactivate hair to go another day. Squeezing water into your hair to reactivate with a little bit of water or a lot of water the next day is key to working with water-soluble products to reactivate your hair. This is the hardest part of the journey to get used to but, with practice and proper ingredients, success is possible for most with wavy and curly hair.

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

This is just a start as there is so much more in the full “MAP” method that Scott teaches privately and in his upcoming online course.

Here are some basics suggestions to try:

– Stop using traditional shampoo and “co-wash” with a moisturizing product instead
– Detox your hair if you’ve been using harsh ingredients
– Get rid of silicone-based products and choose water-soluble products
– Don’t towel-dry your hair with a regular bath towel – apply products to sopping wet hair
– Let your hair air-dry or use a diffuser (wait till you see the giveaway at the end of this post!)  on a low setting for a few minutes and let air dry the rest of the way if you can
– Try not to touch your hair until it’s completely dry
– Once it’s dry, scrunch lightly to break the gel cast so your hair is soft and bouncy
– No need to wash every day! Use a spray bottle filled with water and few drops of filler and sealer to dampen your hair before bed. Put your hair on top of your head with a scrunchie (yep!) and then simply moisten the hair lightly in a steaming shower or with your spray bottle in the morning to freshen. Voila! I go 2-4 days at a time without having to wash my hair.

665 LaraMarch2017_0002.JPG 2Scott recently gave me a shorter cut for spring, and I love it!

Thanks, Scott, for sharing your wisdom and heart! Scott is working on an online video course for curly hair, sharing all of his secrets and the full MAP method. It will release in May and I’ll be sure to tell you when it does! I can’t wait to watch the videos myself! For more info and Scott’s MagiCurly Blog go to www.scottmusgravehair.comTo find a curly hair artist near you – go to the Stylist Locator at the top of the page www.curlyhairartistry.com.

Friends, I want to hear your hair story! Whether you wear your hair natural or straighten it every day, you do you. There’s no right or wrong way to do you hair. And it’s just hair ; ) But, if you feel like you’ve been hiding the pain of the past or you just have no idea what to do with the head of hair God gave you, lean in. It might take some time and learning. It took me a good three months to get into a routine with my curly hair, and it took several months for my hair to bounce back from all the damage I had unknowingly done to it. But, it was worth it!

And now for an AMAZING giveaway thanks to the generous teams at DevaCurl and Innersense!

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Enter to win one of these amazing collections (there will be one winner for each collection!):

The Innersense Collection: 
The Empower Hair Ceremony from Innersense, which includes:
Color Radiance Daily Conditioner
I Create Hold
Awakening Hairbath
Quiet Calm Curl Control

The DevaCurl Collection:
The DevaCurl How to Quit Shampoo Kit
The DevaDryer AND the DevaFuser!
DevaCurl Ultra Defining Gel

Enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Your turn! Are you a curly girl? What’s your hair story? Any favorite tips or products? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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Happy Friday, friends! It’s Jess here! I’m one of the Editors and Customer Delighter for the Cultivate Team, and in lieu of Lara’s usual Little By Little post on Friday, I’m tickled pink to pop in and spend some time with each of you, because I have something very exciting to announce…

*Drumroll please*

The winners from Lara’s 2017 Goal-Setting Series Giveaway! Whether you are a PowerSheets user or not, we are so grateful for the opportunity to encourage and equip you to cultivate what matters in your life 2017! Uncovering good goals isn’t about doing it all; it’s about doing what matters. Reading through your comments to hear about what matters in your lives has fired us up for 2017!

We know we’re a few days late, but we think you’ll agree that this was worth the wait! There are 29 prizes, so scroll down to see if you’re one of the lucky winners!

 

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1. 10 sets of 2017 PowerSheets – Cameron Klepac, Nheylin Ung, Allison Hemer, Vanessa Clark, Megan Bennett, Danielle, Gunnels, Kelly Kamps, Stephanie Michele Seat, Mandy Watson, Katie Hilbert
2. A Fitbit Flex – Kendall (encouraged Brooke Scheider)
3. A gift card for a massage – Tierra Hayes
4. The 2017 Floret wall calendar – Lisa Riley
5. A Fresh Start prayer journal from Val Marie Paper – Wendy Alexander
6. Farmgirl Flowers bouquet – Keri Sanborn Sheehan
7. A (monogrammed!) Cultivate clipboard – Tracy Selle
8. Watercolor set from Artist’s Loft – Michelle Brewer
9. 2017 Simplified Planner – Jessica Van Kipp
10. Mrs. Meyers cleaning products + a free house cleaning! – Kristy Gussio
11. Sweeter than Honey coloring book from Lindsay Letters – Kre Davis
12. My favorite Jonathan Adler Grapefruit Candle – Ashley Riddell Stark
13. Five copies of the Make It Happen book – Jessica Lauton, Charlotte, Balzer-Gott, April Emery, Cilzia Motterle, Stacey Kidder
14. A Write the Word journal – Paula Davis
15. A Meyer lemon tree – Meleah Spencer

One of everything from the Cultivate Shop for a lucky friend who commented on all five posts in the series – Janice Chan

Email me with your mailing address at Jess@CultivateWhatMatters.com!

Not one of our winners? That’s okay! We’ve opened up preorders for our Six-Month Undated PowerSheets Workbooks. These are expected to ship by late May, arriving just in time for June goal-setting to set you up for the rest of the year. Lara’s Goal-Setting Series and Make It Happen book are great resources to use while you wait for your happy mail to arrive!

Hear us loud and clear for this last piece. Do we truly love our products? Yes. Do we use them every single day? Yes. But you don’t need a *thing* to start setting intentional goals. Today is the best day to start. As the Karen Lamb quote says, “A year from now you will wish you had started today!”

Now go make it happen, and have a happy weekend!

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Welcome to the Sixth-Annual Make It Happen Goal Setting Series! I’m so grateful for this series, and for all of you who join each year. How has it been six years, friends? I’m so pumped for this year!!!

Want to listen to this post instead of read? Here you go!

 

One year ago today, I shared some big news with you. We had just matched for our adoption, and had no idea what the year ahead would look like. I declared 2016 “The Year of Getting Messy”—embracing imperfect grace-filled progress—and that’s exactly what it was. 2016 was the hardest and very best year of our lives. (More on that shortly.)

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If you are new to this series, welcome—you’re in for a treat this year! I’m Lara. I’m a mom to three, a business owner, and I live in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. But, the most important thing you should know about me before we start this series is this: I don’t write about goal setting because I love goal setting. The words “goal setting” have often given me the heebie jeebies. I have a lot of things to take care of in my life (like you), and I don’t have room for a whole lot more (I’m guessing that’s like you too), and I get tense even thinking about the pressure to accomplish something beyond my current capacity (areyouwithme?).

We don’t do traditional pressure-filled, do-it-all goal setting around here. We uncover intentional, less-is-more goals. I call these, “good goals.”

Good goals are about stewarding what you’ve been given well: your relationships, your money, your possessions, your work, your children, your home, your health, and your time. A little intentional forethought goes a long way!

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Over the last six years, as my life has dramatically changed, so has this goal uncovering process. I’ve studied what makes people feel unmotivated, and I’ve discovered some pretty amazing not-so-secret secrets to getting unstuck. Uncovering good goals is not about doing it all; it’s about doing what matters. Whether you’re a mom, a student, a business owner, in transition, in the wait—in any place where you are in life, we’re going to let go of guilt-filled resolutions, and embrace a whole new way of doing this goal setting thing. For those of you like me who do not like traditional goal setting, you are in the right place!

From hereon out, when I mention “goals” or “goal setting,” know that I’m talking about good, grace-filled goals.

Here’s what good GOALS are all about:

Grow what matters
One step
At a time
Little by little your
Seeds will grow

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The alternative to uncovering good goals is going through the motions, not feeling confidence that you’re on the right path, lacking motivation, and not taking care of what you’ve been given well. (Speaking from experience here.)

Good goals–the kind we are going to uncover together–give you direction, and unending motivation. You can’t simultaneously do it all and do life wellBut you can choose to cultivate what matters, right where you are.

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Here’s what you can expect in this five-part series: Each day, I’m going to walk through a mix of goal uncovering steps from my first book, Make it Happen (which you can sample here), the 2017 PowerSheets, and I have some new ones that we’ve never done before!

The PowerSheets* and my book have many more steps, and helpful prompts, than I’ve listed in this series. This is just a tiny sampling. Do you need the PowerSheets and book to have an intentional year? No. You don’t need any thing to live this life well. They are great tools if you choose to use them, but if you only do this blog series, and use scrap paper to write your answers, that’s great too. : ) Use what you have! If you are someone who has been stuck in indecision lately, or feeling fear about diving into new things, practice what I call, “making a mess!” Use whatever you have available to write with, and on! It doesn’t have to be perfect. Just dig in.

*UPDATED: We sold out of all of the 2017 PowerSheets, and are blown away by the response this year! You can read more here. But! We just opened pre-orders for a small batch that will be in stock in the spring for the second half of the year. Order HERE!

As we go through each step together, use the comment area here to leave your answers, or write them in your PowerSheets, a journal, or on scrap paper. Don’t just think your answers. Thinking them doesn’t count. Write them out and, if you want accountability, leave them boldly here in the comments. I want to cheer you on, and this year I’m going to leave some of my answers in the comments too! Friends, help me out here and cheer each other on, too. You never know who how your words might change someone! If you need an extra kick in the pants to make it happen, I have a giveaway at the end that might encourage you : )

Ready to dig in? Step 1, here we go!

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STEP ONE: In order to leap into the new, we first must know where we are leaping from. I’m going to ask you the golden question: How are you? Really. How are you? Let’s look at each area of our lives and do a little check-in. Look at the categories below and write out how you are doing in each one. Feel free to write in your own categories, too! Give each area of your life a rating between 1 and 10, along with a few thoughts on why you chose that number. 1 means you are not satisfied in this area, and want to see radical change. 10 means you are happy as a bee on honeysuckle!

– Health
– Friends
– Family (including your significant other, if applicable)
– Finances
– Spiritual
– Work
– Recreation
– Environment

Here’s a free printable 2017 Check-in Worksheet for you—yay!

This is step one for a reason. “How are you?” seems like a simple question, but when answered from our heart of hearts, it can help set you on an entirely new path. It can change everything.

Reply in the comments, or on paper right now. I’ll leave my answers in the comments too! And don’t get stuck in the negative soil. Include thoughts about what is good in each area, too! For instance, as for my feelings about finances: I’ve been challenged by contentment and emotional spending at times, but I have become more skilled at managing money. It took ten years, but I now feel comfortable navigating Quickbooks, doing our business bookkeeping, and analyzing where we are. (Never thought I would type that!) Allow yourself to write the things that may feel undone, imperfect, or hard, and write in some positive thoughts too—even if the positive feels tiny!

Now, a bonus challenge: let the dirt be dirt. Once you’ve written everything out, be still with your feelings for a moment—whatever they may be—without trying to change them or push them away immediately. Let the challenges and places you’d like to grow sink in a little. If you’re like me, I often want to fix my circumstances right away instead of letting myself feel anything at all. My instinct is to reach for a distraction when faced with something that feels hard. But, that never brings me real lasting peace or clarity. So, let’s not do that. Maybe the soil of your life needs some fresh nutrients, or maybe there are some big rocks in the way of you planting new things. The only way you’ll know though, is to see what’s there first.

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STEP TWO: Watch this video (or at least the first 30-ish seconds) that some of my closest friends and I made for you…

What have you been chasing recently, or in the last year? Do you feel like you are “chasing perfect” in some ways—attempting to measure up to an impossible standard? Write or type here what you have been chasing, and how that has been making you feel. Maybe you’ve been chasing success, significance, or approval. Maybe you’ve been trying to keep up, survive, or just get through. Whatever you’ve been chasing, name it boldly and know that you are not alone. To name your chase is to destroy it.

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STEP THREE: In traditional goal setting, you focus on the future, and on achieving your goals as fast as humanly possible. That is a recipe for b.u.r.n.o.u.t. I’ve done it many times in the past, and it’s no bueno. But! Uncovering really good goals means learning from the past in order to cultivate what’s next. The past has a lot to teach us! Let’s take a look back at the last year.

What good things happened in 2016? What grew well and produced fruit in your life? What are you grateful for from the last twelve months? What good things happened? I know this can be a challenging step for many. We don’t like counting our blessings because it may feel self-indulgent or like it won’t get us anywhere fast, or perhaps you are thinking that there were no good things that happened! It’s easy to look back at an entire year and see only the yucky parts, like when something happens to you at the end of the day and you automatically call it a bad day, regardless of what happened the other twenty-three hours.

Let’s do a little digging! A few tips to unearth the good stuff:

– Talk to your significant other or a close friend about your year and ask him or her to reflect some of the highlights back to you. He or she may remember some that you have forgotten! This is also a wonderful way to celebrate the good things of the past year with others. Make it your dinner conversation tonight.

– Take a look back at your calendar, blog posts, social media updates, or photos. Those might give you a clue into some of the good things you’ve forgotten. I made this 7-minute movie below of our adoption story and favorite memories from this year on my iPhone. It’s not perfect (every time I went to export it, it crashed), so I gave up and just let my phone do whatever it wanted with these photos and videos. Now I love that it isn’t the perfect video I had in my head—it reminds me that this year wasn’t perfect either, and it was still good! By the way, the clip where I say, “I just want to express to you how grateful I am…” was recorded the day of Sarah’s birth. Those were words her birth mom said to me, and I will never forget them.

2016: The Year Our Family and Hearts Grew from Lara Casey

– If you are a PowerSheets user, read through your 2016 PowerSheets! Knowing there would be a lot of major life change in 2016 with our adoption and writing a book, I keep my main goals simple: read the Bible, and pray. That was it! I knew that if I could focus on those two things, everything else would fall into place. And it did.

–  A great tip: review your finances from the year. This is like reading a journal of places you went, and what your priorities were.

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My Good Things: My list might look different from others, because for me, all the hard things this year ended up being the good things.

1. As you saw in my video, we adopted a newborn shortly after having a baby (they are six months apart). This was a huge blessing and, for so many reasons, it was also extremely difficult. I haven’t written about our adoption story, except in my upcoming book, because it was such a raw and refining time. Ari and I both experienced anxiety and hard emotions as we walked through this sleepless season. In that season, I felt like a horrible mother, an absent friend, and incapable of leading my team. I wanted to quit my business. I couldn’t rely on my own strength, and it was humbling. (I recently shared some of my story from the last year on the God Centered Mom podcast.) So how in the world did this end up as the number one thing on my good things list? Because this was ALL God’s plan. In what felt messy, He was at work. In the things that felt unexplainable to others, He knew. Good things grew out of what felt hard. Our faith grew. Our bond as a family grew. Our capacity to love each other grew. And so much control that we’d held so tightly to was released. This hard season ushered in massive heart change, and it was good. In coming undone, we came alive!

nancyray-sarahnewborn-1076Photo by Nancy Ray

2. I had a challenging time writing my second book, Cultivate, through that hard season. I was nursing Josh every hour at night, pumping milk for Sarah, trying to keep up with Grace and work, and just couldn’t find the words to inspire others in that season. I had started writing this book two years ago, and it was supposed to be released today actually. Little by little, through so much imperfect progress, I wrote, and rewrote (see here for that story), and just two weeks ago turned it all in! It is not at all the book I set out to write two years ago. I needed to live out this story in order to write the specific words that ended up on the page. I am SO grateful for this imperfect path. The new release date is June 27, 2017!

3. Through all of this big change in 2016, many things started to feel like they didn’t fit anymore. Namely: unknowingly hiding the way I was made and the name of our company. So, those things got re-done, undone, and changed. Like a sweater that fits just right, they feel so good now! Letting my hair down and changing our company name have been incredibly freeing.

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There is so much more, like the garden (oh it was good for my soul!), Amber and Jess joining our team, my mom visiting us a lot this year, so many generous friends who prayed us through our hard season, Ari and I actually having time together at night now (partly in thanks to our friend Irene and her gentle sleep coaching tips for Josh!), Josh in general, Grace coming out of this very hard family transition with renewed joy, and little Sarah is one of the greatest gifts we’ve ever been given. Getting to love her every day is just amazing! I no longer feel like a horrible mom, leader, or friend. And not because I got better at these things, but because hard seasons can make you rely on God’s strength more than your own.

Good things ahead (bonus if you want to include this!)Well, I have some news. I’ve cried a lot of tears writing this little paragraph, and it’s one I never thought I’d write. In all of the change this year, something else became clear that I’m very grateful for. As of today, I’ve passed the torch as Editor-in-Chief of Southern Weddings. When I started the magazine ten years ago, I never imagined it would grow to what it is today–and it has so much growing left to do! We are a very unique company, running two businesses under one roof, with one small-but-mighty team. Like I’ve learned in my garden, you can only grow so much with the space and time you’ve been given. I can’t lead the vision of two large brands at once and nurture a growing family. Many of you know this shift happened several years ago internally—I’ve been uninvolved in content creation for a while now. This year, however, it became clear that I needed to grow new leadership in our team to help both companies continue to grow well. I’ve been working alongside Kristin Winchester for five years, and her passion for the Southern Weddings mission made her a natural fit. She has already been wearing this hat well: cheering on our team, shepherding the big picture, and encouraging meaningful beginnings to married life. KNW, as we affectionately call her, is a pretty remarkable woman, and we are all SO excited for this new season! My title is now Founder and Grateful Wife, which fits me to a tee. Be sure to check back on Southern Weddings next week for more, and to hear about what’s ahead in 2017!

Other good things ahead: In light of what I’ve just shared, I’m excited to start homeschooling Grace in the fall (homeschooling moms, please share your wisdom with me!), release Cultivate in the summer, watch our kids grow (Josh starts preschool in the fall), continue to do the good work He has given me to do here, and Lord willing, go on more date nights with Ari!

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Name three lessons you learned from the good things. For example, in my life there were many times last year that good things happened when I let go of control—whether getting on my knees (literally) in prayer, letting someone else lead, or letting myself make a mess. The lesson for me was a big one: let go. Surrender. Humble yourself. That’s where change begins. I also learned that it’s okay to grow slow, and it’s okay to be average.

Your turn! Write your own list of good things, and lessons you learned. Write your list in your PowerSheets if you have reached that section, or on whatever paper you have. Either way, I encourage you to share some of your 2016 good things and what you learned in the comments to encourage others!

And remember this: There is no room for comparison in cultivating what matters. A page from my 2016 PowerSheets:

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Whether you had one good thing happen or twenty, celebrate the good stuff and let’s help each other do the same. Let’s turn comparison into compassion and cheering on.

lara_casey_isaacson_family_030Photo by Amy Rae. I love these monkeys.

Okay, that’s it for today and that’s plenty to work on. I’ll be back tomorrow with more goal uncovering goodness!

Take your time with this and remember, cultivating what matters is about progress, not perfection. This is not about writing the perfect list of perfect goals with a perfect pen. It’s about digging into the dirt, right where you are, to grow, tend, and harvest what you’ve been given. This process will have a big payoff, but you have to commit to working through it. Let your 2017 goals bake, like a pan of homemade hot cinnamon rolls fresh out of the oven. They wouldn’t be flaky and yummy zapped quickly in the microwave, would they? They’d end up as a big pile of mushy dough. I’m not going to hand you your 2017 goals; we’re going to do this right and bake them well together, little-by-little, with some bold leaps of faith along the way. Sound good? Awesome!

2017 goals lara casey Can you smell those good goals starting to bake!? Yum! : ) 

Need an extra kick in the pants? How about this for motivation? Welcome to the Ultimate New Year’s Giveaway. There are lots of prizes and fun ways to enter. Most of all, though, I hope you comment with your answers from each step as we go through this series. I can’t wait to read your answers, and share mine with you too! One person who comments with answers to every step in this series will win a bonus prize: one of everything from the Cultivate Shop! Yes!!! This includes 2017 PowerSheets, the Cultivate What Matters sticker book, the Cultivate What Matters flair pens, books, journals, art prints and so much more!

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1. 10 sets of 2017 PowerSheets!
2. A Fitbit Flex
3. A gift card for a massage
4. The 2017 Floret wall calendar
5. A Fresh Start prayer journal from Val Marie Paper
6. Farmgirl Flowers bouquet
7. A (monogrammed!) Cultivate clipboard
8. Watercolor set from Artist’s Loft
9. 2017 Simplified Planner
10. ARE YOU READY FOR THIS?! Mrs. Meyers cleaning products + a free house cleaning!
11. Sweeter than Honey coloring book from Lindsay Letters
12. My favorite Jonathan Adler Grapefruit Candle
13. Five copies of the Make It Happen book
14. A Write the Word journal (we’re sold out of all of them except peach!)
15. A Meyer lemon tree – a family favorite around here!

Why am I doing this? I want you—yes YOU—to get renewed, and to uncover a solid direction for the year ahead. Help me spread the word, and let’s get all our friends in on this! Here’s to a meaningful, intentional 2017—I am cheering you on friends. ENTER BELOW, and be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Pssst! Head to this post to find out if you’re a lucky winner!

 

There are 28 total prizes, which means 28 chances to win! Your odds are good : ) Giveaway ends January 30th. Winners will be announced on January 31st here on the blog. Shipping some of these items can get costly, so hard goods are for US entrants only. We can convert some of these to digital prizes for my international friends, though (gift cards instead of shipping the item). If you don’t claim your prize within 48 hours, another winner will be selected, so mark your planners and stay posted! : ) Also, this post contains some Amazon affiliates links. No extra cost to you, but it helps us raise funds for Love One Another Project!

Ready for 2017 Goal Setting, Part 2? Here you go!

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