Category: Little by Little

Spring doesn’t officially start until March 20th, but it has been unseasonably warm here in North Carolina. Lots of things are blooming a full month early. We are likely getting snow over the weekend, so you may see me out with blankets and a hair dryer trying to protect all my early-blooming plants. Seriously. My peach tree is in full bloom and I just might have to run a portable heater out there and put a tent over it. (You guys, I have become a crazy garden lady! I do love my plants, and I especially love our Elberta peaches.)

I couldn’t wait to share this month’s edition of Little by Little with you. In these monthly posts, I share 10 things to help you make little-by-little progress on what matters. I hope these encourage and refresh you.

spring is almost here sign lara casey blogThis sign from Ashley at Under the Sycamore makes me giggle every time I read it!

1. Start your garden! If you haven’t always had a green thumb, or don’t think you could ever have one, part 1 of my Gardening 101 series is for you! Plus, get the first peek inside my upcoming book, Cultivate.

2. Watch an inspiring story unfold. If you haven’t been following my friend Millie’s foster care and adoption story, you must follow along. This was a big week for a very special little girl named Wren.

3. Step into my house. Besides both books, I’ve never prayed more over something I’ve written than this Living with Kids feature on Design Mom. I was grateful to share the story of our marriage ups and downs, thoughts on adoption, cultivating a life-giving home, and our first-ever home tour.

FullSizeRender-6Breakfast on the back porch with my loves and some dinosaurs.

4. Dig into March. I made progress on my PowerSheets goals in February, but some things needed to get shaken up a bit! Read about my February progress and my March goals here. I crossed off my first monthly goal last week!

5. Grow in the wait. I’ve been eagerly anticipating the release of two special books this week. First up, When God Says Wait by my friend Elizabeth Thompson. I got to read an advance copy and it’s just so good. Download two chapters for free here.

6. Step into the garden with Erin. Next up, I’ve been counting the days till my friend Erin’s book, Cut Flower Garden, released. And wow did it have a great first day! Before this week’s launch, they were already on their fourth reprint just with pre-order sales. That’s huge! But really, it’s no surprise. This book is stunningly beautiful, practical, and well-written. Erin has been a huge encouragement to me the last several years as an intentional business owner, mama, educator, and gardener. Get the book here, and take a tour of Erin’s flower farm here.

7. Read good words to your little ones. This has been a great week for books! I got three books in the mail for Grace from two creative and kind gentlemen. The first is When God Made You by Matthew Paul Turner. Such a great message in this book and the artwork is colorful and fun. The second two are The Lion’s Pride and The Fox Hole by a local author, J.S. Davey. These are longer picture books and both are beautifully written and illustrated. Thank you, Matthew and J.S.!

8. Celebrate little Sarah alongside us. Sarah turned one a couple weeks ago, and I finally shared some thoughts on our adoption story. I love this photo that Gina took of us a couple weeks ago. 

IMG_9822Photo by Gina Zeidler.

9. Retreat. I got together with 10 friends a couple weeks ago for a faith retreat–a time to step away from our normal rhythms and grow in our faith and friendships. Read more about it here (and how you can host one yourself!), and there’s a HUGE giveaway we put together for you!

10.  Mark your calendars for March 22! I’ll be posting a special post here with my book cover and film release, and I will be live on my Facebook page that day at noon EST to give you the behind-the-scenes of the cover and the film. I can’t wait to see you there! Till then, I have lots more coming for you here on the blog. Gardening 101 Part 2 goes live on Monday!

IMG_9679Photo by Gina Zeidler at the NC Botanical Garden–we love this place!

I hope these links encourage you! I also shared lots of updates on life lately, and a peek at the new Write the Word journals, in my live broadcast this week.

Cultivating what matters with you, little by little,

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P.S. Many of you have asked, so here’s my daily #RunLiftPraise workout playlist. Enjoy!

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Whether we vocalize it or not, we often crave fast results and overnight success. But, what if we’re missing something? What if overnight and instant aren’t the most fruitful ways to grow things?

I was reading Exodus a couple weeks ago and was blow away by these verses (Exodus 23:29-30):

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If God did it quickly, they wouldn’t be ready. Instead, He does it little by little so they will be prepared and readied over time! What a powerful story for our lives. Little by little progress adds up, and in the wait, we are ripened and readied.

Here are 10 things to help you cultivate what matters, little by little, in the week ahead!

1. Start writing your book. I felt unqualified to write books, and to share about how to write one! But, I wrote this anyway.

2. Shake on it. Grace and I have a secret handshake we do every night before bed. This simple connecting point for us has grown our bond, and it makes us giggle every time! This teacher made up handshakes with every kid in his class (and more!). Check it out.

3. Spend 40 days cultivating your faith. This Lent devotional from Amen Paper Company is beautiful!

4. Clean your kitchen. : ) Some awesome tips from my mom. The tip about clearing out your spices is one I need to do!

IMG_8974Lettering by my friend, Lindsay, from Jennie’s opening session at IF. 

5. Experience fresh faith. IF Gathering 2017 knocked my socks off. I pre-ordered the digital download so I can watch it again. I cheered out loud during almost every session, and couldn’t help the tears listening to Roce, a Bible translator from the Philippines. It was powerful! Pre-order the download here.

6. Explore the new CultivateWhatMatters.com. Finally! The new site has officially launched, and it’s awesome. Read all about the new features, and get your free profile started!

7. Win a farm. Really! Even if you aren’t local to NC, wouldn’t this be amazing for someone to win? If you have farming friends, let them know about this.

8. Refresh your marriage. Valentine’s Day wasn’t always one of my favorite days, namely when my marriage was in turmoil. Read more here, get my free marriage guide here, and check out this marriage conference from Jen at Unveleied Wife!

9. Set goals with your significant other. Need some tips to get your sweetie on board with goal setting, or need a place to start? Here you go! These tips have been tested and approved–Ari doesn’t do goals, but he loved sitting down with me to do the Couple’s Goal Guide!

10. Start over, or start fresh. Cultivate What Matters Week was intended as a week of encouragement for all of you, but I have been double blessed by it myself! I wanted to give up earlier this week, and I learned something in that moment. Read all about it here.

Next up is something many of you have been asking for: Gardening 101! Sign up for my email notes below, if you haven’t already, and you’ll be the first to know when the series goes live next week! Have you thought about starting a garden? I’d love to hear any questions you have below so I can consider incorporating them into the series!

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You guys. One year ago today (right as I’m typing this to you), we were talking to Sarah’s birth mom on the phone for the first time. Besides saying yes to following Jesus, it was the most life-changing conversation I’ve ever had. We hope to see her and talk to her again someday. Till then, I’ll keep writing her letters and sending photos of this little muffin. She’s pretty wonderful!

FullSizeRender-2More thoughts on our adoption here.

Sarah will be one next month, and we’re trying to think of a meaningful way to celebrate. I’ll keep you posted! For those of you who often tell me, “she’s always so smiley!” (which she is most of the time) here’s another pic from our visit with Ari’s mom last weekend! ; )

IMG_8191Hehe. I love her.

It’s been a great first month of the year. Besides these little one’s growing, our garden has also been blooming. Our plants are enjoying the unusually mild North Carolina winter so far. February is typically ice-and-snow-filled though, so we’re enjoying this while we can!

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January has also been a month of steady growth on my 2017 goals. I’ve made progress by pacing myself and relentlessly embracing progress, not perfection. Some things have been easier than I thought (working out at home with the kids), and some things have taken longer than I thought (scripture memorization–post coming soon on that), but what’s been SO freeing is letting go of the race to the finish line entirely. The pace at which we grow something doesn’t matter as much as what we are growing. Little by little progress adds up–and imperfect progress is still progress. Around here we celebrate even the tiniest seedlings popping out of the ground, and we are learning to do the same with our lives. Good things are cultivated over time, not all at once.

Here are 10 Things to Help You Make Little-by-Little Progress in the week ahead!

1. Get yourself some Good Goals (and win some amazing prizes!!). It’s never too late to uncover Good Goals, but the giveaway that goes along with my sixth-annual Goal Setting Series series is almost over (ends Tuesday!). Someone is going to win these prizes. That someone might be YOU if you take the leap and dig in. My hope is that these prizes encourage you to do each step in the series, and cultivate what matters this year–right where you are. Get started here.

2. Come to Making Things Happen! I loved our live chat this week with four of the MTH alum. Their stories are so inspiring! Catch the replay for free here. The early-bird rate for our only Making Things Happen Conference in 2017 ends on Tuesday (save over $1000). If you would like info about payment plans, email Kristin @ SouthernWeddings.com and she’ll get you all set up! Get your seat here before Tuesday!

3. Read good words. The words we say have power, and the words we let into our hearts are powerful too! I shared some new books this week on my Facebook live (which I’m doing once a month now on the second Wednesday of each month–mark your planners for February 8th at noon EST!). The books I shared: Sweeter Than Honey (I love this coloring book and Lindsay’s art and heart!), Different (Y ‘all know I love Sally Clarkson!), Chasing Slow, Cut Flower Garden, and Jennie Allen’s new book Nothing to Prove comes out next Tuesday. So many great reads!

4. Encourage your husband. My friend Kayse is doing an Encourage Your Husband challenge. Join here!

5. Share your progress. What goal did you check off this month? It can be a weekly, daily, or monthly goal. I love hearing your answers! And I love the new progress bars on the 2017 PowerSheets!

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6. Get some real inspiration. Hop over to the new Cultivate What Matters blog for tips on productivity, goal setting, choosing your word of the year (it’s never too late to dig in!), and much more.

7. Get organized. First of all, I didn’t know Chick-fil-A had a blog, did you? We love “chicken-fil-a” around here, as Gracie calls it. I’m so grateful to have shared some organization tips with my friend, Emily!

8. If you want to grow something, tend it. I used to be addicted to instant gratification. I wanted overnight and instant results in everything. But, over time God changed me (and continues to change me). I’ve learned the power of little-by-little progress, hence the name of this series! You can’t soak a plant in water all at once and be done. Good things grow over time with consistent nurturing. PowerSheets friends, here are some great tending tips.

9. Prepare intentionally for February. Look ahead in your calendar, and prepare for a meaningful month. February tends to be a beast here. It’s a weird month of sharp weather, drawing us all inside and making us long for spring. So, I’m preparing ahead of time to make this month joyful! Join the Cultivate ladies on Instagram stories today to dig into your February PowerSheets. I’ll be doing mine on Instagram stories next Tuesday.  Also, February 15th is statistically the day when people fall of their goals and resolutions. We aren’t doing that around here, though! We are committed to progress, not perfection. And we have decided to make a new holiday that week: Cultivate What Matters Week! SO much more to come on that, but get ready. We’re flipping that statistic on its head, and embracing little-by-little progress together. No perfection required!

And I’m giving the last spot to my co-worker and friend, Jess…

10. Be like pizza and make people happy! Some encouragement for you to remember if  Fri-yay! If you don’t follow Kid President on Twitter, might I recommend it? It’s a guaranteed day-brightener! -Jess

Cultivating what matters alongside you,

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Feeling unmotivated or overwhelmed in this second week of the year? This post is just for you! I’m finding so much freedom in breaking lots of “rules” this week, growing slow, and taking January to test the waters with my goals. Who made up the rule that we have to make perfect progress on our goals right from January 1st? Who says you can’t try different ways to cultivate your goals—or quit things that aren’t working? Who told us we have to follow a plan that fits in a box? Here’s the truth: there are a million ways to grow a garden, and everyone’s soil is completely unique! In the same way, how you cultivate your goals will be unique too.

make it happen book lara caseyThe last page of Make It Happen

But, if something isn’t working, or you aren’t feeling motivated with your goals, try one of these three things:

1. Push through and give it a fighting chance. I’m gonna pull some North Carolina history out on you: the Wright Brothers. They changed history through their persistence in failure. It takes time to move from what feels like hard work (which most things feel like when you are just starting them), to feeling like you’re in a groove.

2. Consider that your goal might need some changing. Is your goal rooted in what really matters? If not, it might be the reason you aren’t motivated! Don’t know for sure? Use these questions to help you.

3. Redirect! If an action step, routine, system, or something you are doing to cultivate your goals truly isn’t helping you, it might be an indication that you need to redirect! Try something else. It’s okay to jump ship on things that simply aren’t working.

(More in my weekly Facebook live here – mark your planner for next week’s at noon EST!)

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Here are ten more things to motivate you for the week ahead, helping you make little-by-little progress on what matters!

1. Make things happen. I’m putting this as number 1 because it’s big news for us around here! I’ve done the Making Things Happen conference 51 times over the last NINE YEARS (that blows me away). This experience continues to change as I do, and it just keeps getting better! So, here’s the news. We have done it twice-yearly here in Chapel Hill, NC, for the last few years, but 2017 is different. We decided yesterday that, for many reasons (including out 10th anniversary issue coming out that same month, 2018 PowerSheets launching, and me starting to homeschool Grace in the fall) we’re only doing it once in 2017–this March! It’s coming up fast, and I would love to have you there. If you’ve done the PowerSheets, or enjoyed the goal setting series, or my book, you will love “MTH,” as we call it! Spend two days with me and some seriously inspiring ladies, uncovering good goals, and making a solid action plan. This conference is unlike any other, which is probably why it’s been around for so long! It’s truly for anyone—mom, student, business owner, have goals, or have no idea what your goals are—who wants to take life to the next level. Have a leap of faith you’re considering? MTH is for you. The early-bird rate ends in a couple weeks (over $1000 off), and we do have payment plans available if you need one. This is your year!

2. Become a goal digger. This play on words always makes me giggle. When I was little, we often visited Las Vegas, but don’t get any casino pictures in your head—there was none of that. My dad’s parent’s lived there in the desert. We’d go to an old Western town when we visited, and they let you pan for gold. I loved exploring and sifting through the rocks with my little brother! But, I digress… this podcast is not about Western adventures, but about “Goal Setting for People Who Hate Goal Setting.” I hope it encourages you! Listen in.

3. Know that good things come from hard things. I shared some of our adoption story, and more about the hard season of wanting to quit my business, on the God Centered Mom podcast.

4. Kill comparison, and make real progress. So, this is a funny story. A loooong time ago, I bought a stuffed chicken (not the stuffed-with-spinach edible variety) for Grace from Sevenly.org. I was intrigued by the mission of this company, and one of it’s co-founders, Dale Partridge, was only 25 years old when they launched! He went on to great successes, including writing one of our favorite business books, People Over Profit. I was so grateful to chat with Dale last week on the StartupCamp podcast about how to kill comparison and make real progress.

5. Don’t wait. After selling out two weeks ago, and getting a flood of emails and requests, we opened pre-orders on Wednesday for a small batch of six-month undated PowerSheets. But, don’t wait till you get your set to dig into good goals! Start small or start big; just make sure you start somewhere. Good goals aren’t about having the right planner, or pens, or kicking off on January 1st. Good goals are about stewarding what you’ve been given well, and you don’t need any thing (or perfect timing) to do that! Yes, we want you to get your PowerSheets if you choose, but more importantly, we don’t want you to waste away these first six months by waiting! Today, tomorrow, or even February 1st could be your January 1st.

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6. Tend it to grow it. Here are my January goals above. This page was blank until a couple days ago, and for me, it was perfect timing! Like I said earlier, who made the rule that you have to follow a schedule to make what matters happen, or start right on the first day of the month? With all the loose ends that needed tying, and changes around here, I intentionally waited to set my January goals till now. I’m so grateful I did! One of the cornerstones of the PowerSheets is the monthly Tending List that allows you to break down your bigger goals. These are well-thought-out seeds I’m planting, and tending, little-by-little as I start this new year. (Apparently I love our new sticker book a whole lot!) Several people have asked me what “Cultivated Calendar” means. I have a post in the works about setting up an intentional yearly calendar. More to come!

7. Join me live on the 25th. I’ll be joining a great group of ladies for the Creative Hub Conference, and kicking this virtual conference off on January 25th at 5pm EST. (My dear friend Carrie was super kind to allow me to speak at 5 so I could still put the kids to bed!) This live online workshop goes from January 25-27th, with 14 other great speakers. If you want to learn more about goal setting, business strategies, blogging, and so much more than be sure to sign up.

8. Eat healthy in 2017. Here’s some serious advice about eating healthy from my favorite school principal, Gerry Brooks. And if you need some exercise motivation too, I’ve got you covered. You’re welcome. ; )

9. Tell me your story. One of my four goals is to live a year of radical gratitude and praise. The act of expressing gratitude invites contentment to take root. You guys. These stories you shared with me this week about what you are grateful for are so inspiring and motivating! Wow!

10. Take a step in a fresh, new direction. Haven’t started on your goals yet, or feel like you need some major motivation? Right now it the perfect time to start fresh. Here are my top 10 tips for getting started. And I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get extra motivated reading other people’s goals. I love this roundup on the new Cultivate What Matters blog!

Your turn! What motivates you? Do you have a goal you’re stuck on? Did one of these tips give you a boost? I’d love to hear from you!

 

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P.S. Texas friends, this is for you! I’ll be on Beacon Radio tomorrow (Saturday) between noon CST and 1pm! Listen in on KSLR.com (AM630 in South Texas). I loved chatting with host Steve Teel, and I especially love that the reason he reached out to me is that his young daughter uses PowerSheets! (Hi, Samantha!)

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Well friends, this is our last Little by Little date together for the year. It has been a year of perfectly imperfect little-by-little progress, and I’m so grateful. I’ve enjoyed these Friday posts with you! You can view them all here.

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How are y’all? It has been a good week here. I spent the week writing my Goal Setting Series that starts on Monday, the kids were especially hilarious this week, and this morning we are picking up the RV (see my Instagram stories today for more!)! Since Christmas is this weekend, they wouldn’t let us pick it up any later than today. You guys. It’s large. 32 feet. We aren’t sure if it will clear the birch tree by our driveway, so we may have to park it at an RV friendly location (Walmart) till we leave next Tuesday.

Amber, who is a great friend and became my co-worker this year too (I am a lucky duck to work alongside her every day!), convinced me to do something extra fun on our RV adventure. On my birthday (next Tuesday), we’re going to be rolling down south from Chapel Hill to Pensacola, and I’ll be leaving boxes of PowerSheets and lots of goodies along the way. #PowerSheetsRoadTrip is on! Stay posted here for more on Tuesday, and for a peek into our holiday rig this morning!

Here are things to help you cultivate what matters, little by little, in the week ahead:

1. Try a social media free weekend. I’ve been doing this for six years now to be more present with my family, and I’ve never missed that time online. This is a great weekend to give it a whirl!

2. Dig into your PowerSheets to prepare for an intentional 2017. Order yours here if you haven’t already. (And join the private PowerSheets Facebook group!)

3. Join the list for monthly encouragement from me, and to be the first to know when my Goal Setting Series goes live on Monday! It will come right to your inbox.

4. Get inspired! I loved my interview with farmer-florist Erin Benzakein this week! I could have talked to her for hours. Thank you to the hundreds of friends who joined us.

5. Create a life-giving home. I just saw that my friend Sally’s book is almost 40% off today!

6. Get some good last-minute gift ideas. You’re welcome : )

7. Make it happen. If you haven’t read my first book, Make It Happen, now is a great time to begin. It was written for this season of reflecting and setting good goals. And I got an early present this morning in my inbox – my (second) book! As many of you dear friends know, it has been a long process full of imperfect progress. I finally turned in my finished manuscript a couple weeks ago, and my editor sent it back to me this morning with this generous encouragement: I know this was the most difficult and challenging book for you to live and to write but I truly believe that gold has come from the furnace. All praise to the Lord!

And three last pieces of encouragement for this special holiday we are celebrating this weekend…

8. Rest.

9. Rejoice.

10. A baby changed everything. 

Merry Christmas, friends! See you Monday for the 2017 Goal Setting Series!

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