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.
These 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!
Celebrating 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!
Please 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. Oh 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!
Gracie 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!
Taking 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!
Another 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.
And 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!
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.
Photos 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Scott 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.com. To 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!
We sat in a team meeting, trying to come up with an answer to this question: How do we help people more often than just once a year with our annual print magazine?
Social media is great. Blogs are great. But, holding something in your hands is a different experience. It has the potential to become part of your everyday life.
That was a powerful realization for us. If we could get good words, and meaningful tools into people’s hands, maybe they would sink more deeply into their hearts. A domino effect of change could happen. Big change. World change, even. We are a tiny team, but we believe that what we have is good, and something the world needs: hope.
Our fifth-anniversary issue of Southern Weddings was a landmark issue for us. My marriage had recently come back to life, and our theme for the issue followed-suit: love never fails. Long before there were thousands of shops offering prints (and this was just four years ago), we took what felt like a big risk and made a gold foil print of those words to match our issue: Love Never Fails. Our hope was that couples would hang it in their new homes together and remember what matters most. We quickly sold out, and people began to understand and live out those words.
A few months later, in the Lara Casey Shop, we released this print, and this desk card, with the same hope: inspire people to cultivate what matters. Help people shift their thinking from distractions, comparison, and lies we tell ourselves too often, to truth. Life-giving truth. We sold out again. Having meaningful words in people’s homes, tucked in lunch boxes, on desks, and written on family room walls, was doing something.
Over the years, we have done notepads, prints, water bottles, original artwork, T-shirts, desk cards, sketch books, and lots of prints with my handwriting. We were up for creating whatever was going to help people get truthful inspiration in their hands. And then, we took a big risk and released the first PowerSheets, hoping that these goal-uncovering worksheets, filled with thoughtful questions and prompts, would help people uncover good goals–and take action. Four years later, thousands of people from literally all over the world are continuing to cultivate what matters with them. From one woman losing 90lbs and taking back her health, to students finding direction in their paths, marriages being strengthened (praise Him!), businesses being launched, moms finding fresh contentment right where they are, people being able to better navigate seasons of transition, and the simple things in daily life being savored more intentionally, the impact was–and is–happening.
But, two years ago, I started to feel restless. Like the feeling you get when your clothes don’t fit well. I had just gone through a miscarriage and we were beginning to pray about adoption. God was opening our hearts to things we never imagined. Lots of change was in motion in our family, and in our company, and some things didn’t match that heart change.
My website felt too flashy.
We were selling too many different products, which was a lot to manage.
And shop name felt too, well, about me.
We kept running into walls when we wanted to share more good words with the world. Using our Instagram name @LaraCaseyShop felt like we were selling things, even when we weren’t trying to at all. For instance, earlier this year, after I posted this about wanting to quit my business, and we started telling more of our new story, having the word “shop” in our Instagram name didn’t feel like the right home for what we were sharing. Now, don’t hear me say that having “shop” in your name is a bad thing. It’s not at all! This is just what we personally felt in these four walls with our specific story. For us, our name began to make us feel confined, like we had to talk about shop things since that’s what our name was. But, this shop wasn’t created to just sell stuff; it was created to help people. My friend Lindsay and I share a heartbeat. She recently did something similar with her company name and I love what she shared:
“I love making art. I love making it for me, for you, and for the Lord. I believe that He’s given me this gift to bless Him, others, and to steward well. So the solution cannot be quitting. The solution, it seems, is a mind-shift. The solution has to be found in perspective.”
She shifted her perspective from selling art to blessing others with art. And her shift has made a greater impact.
Is selling bad? No way Jose. I believe that God has given us tools and words to help change lives, and the money we make is a tool to help change lives too. We are given all these things to steward well. And for us, to steward what we’ve been given well, we came to the conclusion that we needed a new hometo do it from. We wanted to break free of the title trap, and have a home that fit. We wanted to tell other people’s stories, too–YOUR stories. We wanted to simplify, live well, give big, and help you do the same. We wanted a home that was bigger than just a shop. Because we didn’t start this to run a shop; we started this to run this race of life well and help you do the same.
But, renaming a shop is a big deal. There was so much we’d have to change, and what would the new name be anyway???
Here’s how this conversation went for all of us:
Well, “Cultivate” is our ideal choice. This word has defined the last few years for us. We’ve tilled up the soil, gotten our hands dirty, planted meaningful things, tended to them little by little, and in the last couple months we’ve started to see the fruit. We are cultivating what matters, and the intentional decisions—and little by little imperfect progress–has been worth it.
BUT! Someone else has that domain name, and someone else has the Instagram handle.
So, that’s out. If it’s not perfect, we shouldn’t do it.
I prayed. We mulled. We discussed all kinds of other names. We slept on it (for about five months). But, Cultivate just wouldn’t let us go.
And now I’m in tears typing this. I wasn’t at all expecting them, but I believe this is confirmation from the Lord, once again, that He is in this. This isn’t about a company name; it’s about our lives. Little by little, change has happened. Little by little, God has been teaching me to grow what matters, in whatever season I’m in, with what I have, and that I don’t have to do all the heavy lifting.
‘So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow’ (1 Corinthians 3:7).
God’s three answers to prayer: yes, not yet, and I have something better in mind. His answer to my prayers about our company name was a combo of not yet and I have something better in mind : ) When I let go of chasing “perfect,” I finally found freedom and truth. The name became abundantly clear.
In a meeting, I said it out loud:
Cultivate What Matters.
We all got still.
CultivateWhatMatters.com and CultivateWhatMatters on Instagram just happened to be open. Would it be easier to tell people Cultivate.com? Sure. But, that wasn’t God’s plan. And God’s plans are always better than ours.
Because, you see, it’s not about just growing any old thing. It’s not about doing more or being more. It’s not about striving for perfect, or having it all together. It’s about growing the right things. It’s about growing what you’ve been given right where you are. It’s about growing what lasts longer than you. That’s what matters. And we want to help you get there.
My friend, Andrea, sent me this note a few months ago as I was in the beginning stages of writing my upcoming book, Cultivate (releases next May):
This past Sunday our pastor said something that made me think of you. His sermon was about work and how we serve the Lord through our work. One of his points was that we were designed for work. Work was part of God’s plan even before the curse of the fall. In discussing this he referenced Genesis 2:15 “the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.” Then he pointed out that the Hebrew word used here as “cultivate” is `abad and that it is the same word used for “serve” in Joshua 24:15 “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” This just really struck me and made me pause and think. I love the idea that the hard work we are doing in cultivating our faith, our lives, our businesses, our children is serving the Lord. I immediately thought of you and your work on Cultivate.
Cultivating what matters means serving, blessing, giving, and finding deep contentment knowing you are right where you re supposed to be, mess and all. Flaws and all. Flowers grow through the dirt, and so do we, friends. And they don’t grow for themselves; they grow to bless others.
So, there you have it. Our new shop and company name is Cultivate What Matters, and we’re so grateful! In sharing this with you, we feel like we’re all coming home.
What’s ahead and when this change will officially happen: In the coming weeks, we’ll be launching the 2017 PowerSheets, the Cultivate What Matters sticker books (these are arriving as I type these words—wait till you see them!), and most importantly, CultivateWhatMatters.com (right now it redirects to the PowerSheets site). The new site will be home to a new inspiration blog, goal accountability groups, live coaching, downloads, and much more. Along with the Cultivate What Matters site launch, we’ll be changing over our Instagram name and social info to match.
And more change to share today—the relaunch of this here website! : ) These past two years have been a season of transition and change, and the glitter and flashiness of the old homepage just wasn’t me anymore. We’ve simplified it and included new photographs thanks to my friend Amy (now that I’m embracing my curls and have a few more kiddos around the house!). On the new home page you’ll find three free guides on Goals, Faith, and Marriage, to equip and encourage you to live out the words of our soon-to-be new company name.
The blog has been revamped, too. I’ve been blogging every week for the last six months, and I wanted to be able to connect with you more easily. A mobile-friendly version of the blog has been needed for a while; no more zooming in to read things. We’ve also made it easier for you to interact in the comments by using your Facebook profile if you choose.
There’s more and a few surprises, but I’ll let you poke around to find them : ) And we know a bunch of stuff isn’t done and there are glitches we need to still fix, but we’re launching anyway!
More about our new company name and our changes on Facebook Live.
There’s more to say and share, but in the name of done being better than perfect, I’ll end with this little prayer that’s on my heart right now:
Thank you, Lord. Oh, Lord, you are GOOD. I just took a big deep content breath. I feel You with us. May these changes, our work, and our imperfect words bring you joy. I’m so grateful for this change, what you are growing in all of our lives, and most of all, for Your transforming grace. AMEN
By His grace my marriage was redeemed.
By His grace we have helped women uncover clarity and direction—and found it ourselves too.
And now, by His grace, we share this story, and invite you to join us to Cultivate What Matters.
Thank you, friends, for all of your love and encouragement as we’ve travelled this journey!
To celebrate, I’m giving away a set of our new Flair pens (for you to use to write meaningful words in lunchbox notes, post-its, in your PowerSheets, or wherever!), and five of our new sticker books that are full of colorful, and genuinely meaningful stickers for your planner, PowerSheets, or wherever you want to use them (for example: put down your phone, drink water, take a day off, rest, and many more). Tell me below: what do you want to cultivate in your life?
So, here’s the thing. Yes, you are reading pixels on a screen. But! I’m a real person typing this, and I know you are a real person too–with a story that matters. So, will you tell me about yourself? I’d love to know who you are, or if we’ve met before, what’s new in your life. I’m sharing my thoughts below, and I hope you’ll join me in saying hi too!
I’m Lara. I’m a mom to three (one through the gift of adoption), a grateful wife, and a believer in the “impossible.” I’m the creator of the PowerSheets, a grace-filled goal setting planner, and an unlikely gardener. I am passionate about faith, good goals (here are my four goals for 2017!), and helping people get unstuck and unrushed. I founded the Making Things Happen movement, Cultivate What Matters, and, even though I felt unqualified, I wrote two books. Cultivate comes out June 27th (which a dear blog reader told me is also National Pineapple Day!). I love the women I work alongside each day, hot boiled peanuts, my garden, exploring local farms, and living in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Your turn! Tell me who you are, where you are from, and fires you up.
When I was in middle school, I was teased for my frizzy, curly red hair. With sound guidance from the early 90’s, I did what many girls did then: I permed it. You know what happened next. I came out of the salon with slightly-green, ammonia-scented, brittle, extra-frizzy hair. Add five years of braces, and being a natural introvert to the mix, and you have middle school memories that I locked away in the “do not disturb” compartment of life. The photos of this season are buried in my parents’ house somewhere.
Then Sanrio came out with the “The BFF book.” I remember the sting of rejection I felt when my name wasn’t written in a friend’s book. I started to think that something must be wrong with me. I determined to be liked. I became a people-pleaser, always seeking approval and validation from others.
In high school, I would go to the grocery store with my mom and look at the magazines at check-out. Most covers showed women with tan, perfectly smooth, freckle-free skin. I bought all the freckle-eraser creams, and lathered on the feelings of not being enough. I felt like I didn’t fit, and believed that, since I wasn’t perfect, I’d never be happy or loved.
As my friend Lysa says in her new book, Uninvited, “Rejection steals the best of who I am by reinforcing the worst of what’s been said to me.”
Or not said. Or assumed. Or not written in a friendship book.
Twenty years later, I got married in my hometown, and went through a painful divorce shortly after. More of my story here. I craved a new identity that couldn’t be shaken by circumstances, or what other people thought, or by the mistakes I would inevitably make along my path. As my friends Jess and Hayley say, I constantly felt like I was too much and never enough. I was deeply in debt, and got a job as a personal trainer at the local gym—-the gym where all those people in my hometown (who had come to my wedding) socialized. I didn’t have any other choices for work at the time though. I needed to make money to pay bills, and the only way forward was to step into what felt like the lions den. Instead of running from it, or trying to fix myself, I stepped right into the feelings of shame, isolation, and rejection.
In that same gym, months later, I met Ari. He didn’t judge me for my past or flinch when I told him about all the baggage I was carrying from the past; he just wanted to know me.
I learned something in that season. There was a way out of the constant cycle of living in lack, believing that I wasn’t ever going to measure up. I started seeking God more. In Christ, I’ve learned over time that I am invited. Always welcome. Always loved.
Something that has helped me is to think about what I know versus what I feel. Feelings aren’t the enemy, but many times they can lead us away from truth. I may feel rejected at times, but I know Whose I am. I may feel broken, but I know I’m whole in Him. I may feel like my heart is a mess, but I know God transforms our messes into our message. I may feel alone, isolated, and lonely at times, but I know that God never ever leaves me. Leaning into knowing, instead of letting my feelings inform my worth, changes things.
Lysa posted recently about crushing the lies and lines we’ve believed. I woke up one day a few weeks ago and felt tired of fixing my hair. Always putting it up or straightening it. Hiding my frizz. My curls. My past pain.
So, I washed it and let it go that morning.
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. But, it wasn’t about a hairstyle, it was about letting go of what years of feeling rejected 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. I had to come undone.
Rejection is going to happen. It happened to me just last week again and it stung. But, it reminded me to keep fighting to trust in what I know to be true. I am loved. You are too. More than we could ever imagine. Living from the place of knowing we are loved encourages others to do the same. It multiplies freedom.
More in my Facebook Live today.
Have you experienced rejection? How has that shaped you? I’d love to hear your story…