Category: Motherhood

This season ahead is full of change for our family. I’m taking a big leap and starting homeschool with Grace. This means a lot of things are changing, namely my work schedule and what will be filling my brain and heart each day. The journey ahead isn’t just about teaching her to read and write and discover the world (I’m going to have to rely on Ari to teach math!); it’s about cultivating her heart. More on homeschool in another post as we figure out what’s best for our family.

Today, I want to talk about change.


Change–even good change–can be uncomfortable.

Change is hard.
Transitions are hard.

But, after the last two years of rapid life change, here’s something I never thought I would say about this season ahead:

I am grateful to be stretched outside of my comfort zone.

We humans like certainty and known outcomes, am I right planner friends? Our brains seek out patterns and habits because they require less brain activity, so change literally feels uncomfortable. It feels like a lot of work because it is more work for our brains—and hearts.

That means that true change is supposed to feel hard. It may even mean we are growing in the right direction and changing for the better.

You might be thinking right now that you do not want change, even if it’s for the better. But, let’s dig a little deeper.
Do you want to live more intentionally?
If so, then yes, you do want change! You just may not want the hard parts that come along with it.

We want it but we don’t want it, right? : )

Do you have a transition or something new ahead?

Whether you’re starting something new, taking a leap of faith, walking through a season of waiting, helping kids transition back to school, or are in the thick of something challenging that’s pushing you outside of your comfort zone, here are three tips for embracing change. Disclaimer: these tips don’t apply to every situation, but I almost hesitate to even give that disclaimer! Y’all are wise beyond your years. Apply these tips with prayer and wisdom! They have certainly helped me in many situations over the last two years:

1) Go with it to grow with it. Resisting change might be making you spin your wheels, holding you back from potentially better outcomes. We try so hard to resist change, but that’s like resisting the seasons and wearing shorts in the winter! Winter clothes in the winter months are a good thing. You should wear them. : ) The alternative is to stay in your comfort zone and not actually be that comfortable in the end. Growth and change are inevitable parts of every new season.

2) Think big picture to break out of small thinking. Ask yourself, “Will this change get me closer to where I want to be when I’m 80 years old?” For me, will homeschooling Grace be crazy hard in the short term? Yes, likely. Will it bring me to my knees? Yes, I anticipate so. But, in the big picture, will it help Ari and me cultivate Grace’s unique heart? Lord willing, yes. Will taking a leap of faith and hiring a new team member help us grow and flourish–and therefore change more lives? Yes. Will embracing the changes my body is going through help me to uncover solutions? Most definitely. Denial is a comfortable place to be until it’s not. 🙂 In the big picture, could that leap of faith, move, big step, hard thing, or transition be good in the end? Sometimes we won’t know the answers until we embrace where we are and dig in to find out.

3) Consider something crazy: change might be good! The times I’m stretched to change are times I end up feeling most at peace. Why? Because I rely on God more instead of myself. When everything feels out of my control and I just can’t fix it all or figure it out or handle the change, I remember that I don’t have to. As I wrote in Cultivate, “You likely have heard the popular phrase: ‘She believed she could, so she did.’ Those words are lovely and instill confidence, but that doesn’t last. I know a deeper truth: She believed she couldn’t, so He did. You don’t have to make it all happen. You just have to take one step forward in faith and let Him do the rest. Where you can’t, God already has.” Surrendering in times of change helps me to find a peace that passes all understanding–a joy that supersedes all the hard stuff.

Change is hard, but change is essential for growth. In order to grow, a seed first has to let go of its outer shell.

Your turn! What change are you facing right now? Has it been hard? Are you feeling some fear? Do you have a tip for embracing change that has helped you? I’d love to hear from you!

I interviewed Korie Robertson, mom to six and author of Strong and Kind, about embracing change and cultivating strong families. Get the live replay for free here!

23 Show Comments

Friends, today is the day! After writing (and re-writing) for over two and a half years, getting on my knees a thousand times to beg God for the words He wanted me to write, and so much life change and refining, Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life, has finally bloomed. This has been a journey of surrender and trust–more than any other time in my life. I’m grateful for so many of you who have prayed me through this journey. My prayer is that this little book will help you cultivate what matters, right where you are.

I believe that small intentional decisions add up.

I believe good things can grow out of hard things.

And I believe new life can come from what feels lifeless.

As I wrote in Cultivate, “New life starts with a tiny seed, which must let go of its shell to sprout. There is power—energy, ability, great potential—hiding in each one. The magic is already inside. You just have to cultivate it.”

lara casey cultivate book

Order your copy here in paperback, digital, or audio book. I was so grateful to record the audiobook in my own voice. Cultivate also includes a 10-week study guide in the paperback version and materials for small groups. I wrote this book hoping it would encourage meaningful conversations and connections with friends!

lara casey cultivate book 2

And now for something extra special: the Cultivate photo album. Here’s a peek into the journey of this book and our garden, chapter by chapter. I hope you enjoy these photographs as much as I did in putting them together for you.

Chapter 1: The orchid, Grampa Cecil, the garden covered in snow as I started writing this book, our perfectly imperfect peaches and a few peeks at Grace in the garden over the years.

Garden Company: The company we keep in the garden: Hootie, the butterflies, Grace looking out the window at the “magical trio,” and… the hornworms.

Chapter 2: Seeds sprouting and letting go of their outer shell, running a business from my house, and our Elberta peaches.

Be the Bees: Our lemon tree adventures! The day the first Meyer lemon tree box arrived, “being the bees” and pollinating the trees with a paintbrush, and enjoying some lemonade.

Chapter 3: Garden dreaming through the years and Ari making new garden beds after our season of loss.

All the Plants I’ve Killed: Our multitasking tree.

Chapter 4: Trying to dig old roots out and having to get an ATV to help us, and tilling up the hard ground of winter.

Mama Bird Knows Best: Baby birds in our front door wreath.

Chapter 5: Planting new seeds in faith, and finding out some surprising news.

U-Pick Memories: Blueberry picking at Wanda’s. I actually went to Wanda’s this weekend with Ari and the kids and brought her a book–she was so surprised and excited!

Chapter 6: Growing in the wait – our memorable garden meal with Kristin, waiting for Joshua (Ari and my mom helping with the garden), writing the Word with Grace while we waited, Joshua arrives, and six months later Sarah arrives!

Metamorphosis: A butterfly in the garden–transformed in the dark and given a new life with wings!

Cultivate book butterflies

Chapter 7: The thick of it – our refining season fighting anxiety and hard emotions, and trying to write this book. We captured photos of the happy moments, trying to cultivate what mattered in the middle of what felt like a mess underneath. Good things grew out of that refining season!

Chapter 8: Dandelions and savoring the harvest.

Heirloom Plants: My Great-Grandmother Irene’s Jonquils.

Chapter 9: Walter, the community God grew around us, adventures in the “magical garden” at the retirement community, and our dear silver-haired friends.

Celebration: Gracie’s marigold celebrations and making our bean tee-pee!

Garden Markers: Marking our plants with the names of special friends and family.

Chapter 10: Preserving fruit and memories, our pressed flower project, and a photo of my grandparents.

The Day I Thought I Would Lose the Garden: The day we discovered some unwelcome garden company.

D89017BA-FDA2-47AD-A3B7-AE2F98D86F2D

A New Season: Embracing the frost of winter and a collection of photos from our new season!

Thank you again to the many friends who have encouraged me on this journey–I’m celebrating you and praising Him for you today too! Order your copy of Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life and grab sharable quotes, graphics, and screensavers from the book here.

 

 

10 Show Comments

Writing this post makes me feel happy and sad all at the same time. As I was writing this, Jess gave me some encouragement: “So often we feel like we have to be one or the other–happy or sad, not in between. But “and”–the middle ground–is often more true.”

Yes! That’s where I am. This is sad and happy. Exciting and bittersweet.

We’re so happy that Sarah and Chris are expecting a baby this fall, and yet sad that our time with Sarah will be coming to an end soon. She has blessed our family immensely. The last year has been a dream (I rarely use that phrase but it fits here!) as we’ve welcomed Sarah into our family–and into the mess and fun of every day life here at the Isaacson house/Cultivate and Southern Weddings office.

Lara Casey Blog Hiring Caregiver10These two love Sarah so much!

I’m so happy for what’s ahead of Sarah (we got to hear the audio recording of the baby’s heartbeat this morning! Ah!!!) and I’m really grateful she’s not moving to another city. : ) Sarah has blessed our children, us, the ladies in this office, our neighbors, our friends–I could go on. What happens in this house is pretty unique, and Sarah has been a ray of light for all of us!

Lara Casey Blog Hiring Caregiver3Celebrating Sarah’s birthday this year.

As you can see in these photographs, she’s pretty amazing. She works hard and loves God passionately. We trust that God will bring us another great fit for our family!

Lara Casey Blog Hiring Caregiver7Please note Sarah’s tank top. ; )

We are looking for someone special, and perhaps that person is you! We are seeking a full-time caregiver and House/Office Manager, starting August 1st. Please apply if you meet ALL of these requirements. Lara Casey Blog Hiring Caregiver8Oh sweet Sarah’s!

Who you’ll care for:

Almost-two-year-old boy (Joshua)
One-year old girl (Sarah)
Kindergartener girl (Grace)
A handful of fishies and a bevy of houseplants : )

We’re looking for:

Joyful Caregiver
Hard Worker and Self Starter
Health-Oriented(non-smoker, etc.) because this job takes a ton of energy!

Lara Casey Blog Hiring Caregiver4Gracie loved decorating for Sarah’s birthday.

We need someone who can commit to two years with us. Must be able to start training August 1st. If you are applying from out-of-state (our previous three caregivers did this!), you must be able to relocate to the Chapel Hill, NC, area by August 1. The ladies in my office and I will gladly help you hunt for great living arrangements. We love this area!

Lara Casey Blog Hiring Caregiver6Taking all the kids to the doc together!

Must be extremely organized, energetic (three kids will keep you on your toes!), joyful (we love to be silly), and experienced in childcare. A background in early childhood education is a plus. College graduates preferred, but we are open. Must have own transportation (although you’ll use our minivan to cart the kiddos around!), and a clean driving record. In addition to caring for our three children while I work, you will also be responsible for managing this unique building we call our home and our office. There are not only three kiddos who look forward to meeting you, but lots of ladies too!

Lara Casey Blog Hiring Caregiver1Another reason I love Sarah: she loves being silly with Grace and igniting her imagination!

I run a business with multiple employees from home, so I am here all day as well, and I’ll be transitioning to homeschooling Grace a couple days a week in the season ahead. (Please let me know in your application if you have experience with homeschool.) We will spend a lot of time together, caring for these children alongside each other.

Lara Casey Blog Hiring Caregiver2And now I’m getting teary-eyed. We love you, Sarah. 

Our faith is a cornerstone in our home. We are seeking a caregiver who can teach and reinforce Christian principles and lead by example. We are looking for someone who has a very strong faith, is calm under pressure, confident in their faith, and is willing to develop a passion for shaping our children’s hearts alongside us.

Please pray about this position and only reply if you meet ALL of these requirements. We’ve had four wonderful nannies over the last five years, and know the qualifications fit our family well. We will be doing several Skype interviews with potential candidates.

Please APPLY HERE. This is a full-time salaried position – Monday to Friday, 8-6pm. We will begin Skype interviews ASAP. Please read through this post and the application thoroughly. Your attention to detail is part of the interview. : ) We are praying for you as you apply!

P.S. If you know someone else who this would be a great fit for, please pass this post along. Thank you!

2 Show Comments

Sarah turned one a couple Sunday’s ago. Her birthday was a little different than any we’ve celebrated for Josh or Grace. While there were cupcakes and Grace made the sweetest decorations, there was also a different feeling of awe. We celebrated Sarah’s birthmom, her life, and God’s faithfulness to lead us into adoption in the first place. For God to entrust this child to two imperfect people is a reflection of His love and grace. This little girl is something special, and her story is too. We are so grateful!

FullSizeRender-5

I haven’t done a family post like this in a long while, so I thought it might be sweet to capture the memory of her first birthday—and a few thoughts on our adoption a year later–here on the blog in words and photographs.

FullSizeRender_1

Before we adopted Sarah, I scoured the internet for adoption stories. At the time, I didn’t understand why some blogger friends didn’t post about their adoption stories, or if they did, it was months–and sometimes years–later.

Now, I understand.

FullSizeRender_2

Adoption is often private in many ways. There are many details of Sarah’s story and her birthmom’s story that are sacred and private. I wrote a bit of the story in Cultivate, but only the portions God told me to share to encourage others.

Adoption is hard and beautiful at the same time. We experienced so many emotions in the adoption process and after. For me, having just had a baby a few months before Sarah’s birth (Josh and Sarah are six months apart) gave me heightened feelings of tenderness for our birth mom. We were blessed with unexpected time—hours and hours of beautiful time–to be with her in the days after Sarah’s birth. I carry her with me often, thinking of her selfless love for Sarah, and genuinely missing her. She chose to make our adoption closed, asking that we send letters and photos through our agency every few months. But, our agency told us throughout this year that she hadn’t contacted them to get the letters. We prayed and prayed that she would one day ask for the letters, and feel encouraged by reading our prayers for her, and how much we all love her and think of her. I kept sending the letters anyway. Maybe at a year she would request them. But, when I emailed the morning of Sarah’s birthday to see if she had made contact, she hadn’t. (I have an update on that at the end of this post…)

Adoption is refining. Nothing has drawn us closer to each other and to God than the experience of the last year. The season of having a newborn and adopting another was unexplainably challenging, and it is in the hard moments that our faith grew. Good things came out of the hard things!

IMG_9738

Adoption is a gift. We get to see God’s miracles unfold in ways we couldn’t have imagined. We get to watch Josh and Grace pour love into Sarah. We get to watch our neighbors and family pour love into Sarah. We get to watch our friends pour love into Sarah. And all of this love feels like God pouring love on our whole family. It’s like God is saying, I see you. I love you. I am with you all.

FullSizeRender_3

Grace spent two weeks making decorations and asking me about Sarah’s party. Every day she sat and made crafts and banners and cards for her.

FullSizeRender_4

She wanted balloons for her and lemonade and purple plates and cups (Sarah’s birthmom’s favorite color is purple).

FullSizeRender_7

We decorated with jasmine vine and daffodils from the garden.

FullSizeRender_17

And as per our new yearly tradition (started at Sarah’s Sip n See last year that I have yet to blog!), we put a board of seed packets up.

IMG_9686

We asked guests to put their names on the seed packets and we’ll be naming each plant after them! This was such a meaningful touch for our garden last year. Here are a few of last year’s garden markers, lettered by my good friend Lauren

gracias garden markers lara casey

We used some of our favorite Floret seed packets for this year’s board.

FullSizeRender_15

Guests loved this! We’ll send them a pic of their special plant when things start sprouting.

FullSizeRender_16

Grace begged me for this lemonade stand, and I am glad I said yes. She had so much fun serving everyone pink lemonade.

FullSizeRender_6

Sarah loves our long-time friend Joslyn (who has been helping me pick out a few new classic wardrobe staples after several years of being on a clothes-buying hiatus – more on that soon)!

FullSizeRender_9

And Josh loves his sister… and strawberries (the red stuff all around his mouth).

FullSizeRender_10

There’s something magical about a house full of friends who have poured so much into your daughter’s life.

FullSizeRender_11

Josh’s little legs in the bottom right of this pic make my heart smile.

FullSizeRender_8

We kept this super simple since it was 2pm on a Sunday afternoon. We served cookies, cupcakes, strawberries, and some crackers for the kids. Oh, and lemonade of course!

FullSizeRender_12

At the end of the party, Ari offered a prayer for Sarah, and in thanks to God for our friends. It was a special moment.

FullSizeRender_19

After the party, these two were sufficiently filled with love and sugar, which made for an extra enthusiastic bathtime!

FullSizeRender_14

It was a sweet day celebrating a very sweet girl and the God who made her!

Like I mentioned, I haven’t written much here about our adoption because it’s not just our story. It’s Sarah’s story. It’s her birthmom’s story. It’s also a story I don’t quite have words for. It’s beautiful and messy, but God is in it all. I’ll share a little more in Cultivate in a few months, but I hope this little post was encouraging. Here is a video I put together of her first year and her birth. I cry every time I watch this!

2016: The Year Our Family and Hearts Grew from lara casey on Vimeo.

And remember how I emailed our adoption agency on Sarah’s birthday and they said our birth mom still hadn’t contacted them? Well, an hour later she did. She asked for all of our letters. I’m tearing up typing this. Her message to us: “I am well and I love you guys so much!” God, you are good! 

17 Show Comments

This morning, Grace came in early (4:45am-ish) and snuggled in our bed.

Me: Hi, sweet pea. Are you okay? 
Grace: I came to snuggle with you because I knew you were all alone. 

Ari was gone speaking at a conference, so this unexpected wake-up call was a welcome gift. I checked the time and decided to read the Bible to us till we had to get up and open Cafe Isaacson for breakfast at 5:30. (We have hungry growing kids. Breakfast around here is quite a production!) Grace snuggled into me and peeked at what I was about to read to us. The first thing that came up on my YouVersion Bible app was the verse of the day in this picture format…

bible verse from grace

Grace: Mommy, why is that picture there?
Me: It’s a way to share about God with other people, like in a message or on a blog.
Grace: Well, then why don’t you share it on your blog?
Me: Well, I don’t know. (I didn’t have plans to today) You know what, that’s a great idea. I’ll do that! 

To all who may read this impromptu post, here is my prayer for you today: May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance. With love from me and Grace. : )

IMG_9781Outside this morning with my very energized crew. Our peach tree bloomed early!

P.S. Get my free Cultivating Faith Guide here.

2 Show Comments