Category: Personal

Have you seen the extra tag on all those items you are considering purchasing this year?

You may not have seen or noticed this tag before, but it’s there:

The Time Tag.

Everything we buy costs not only dollars but time.

The Time Tag illuminates how much time it will take to care for, manage, or get the most out of that item. And, with what I call cultivated purchases, how much time you will potentially get back!

Everything has a time tag.

Think about it.

That new sweater you have your eye on today?

It will cost you time in caring for it, giving it a place to live, and washing it to make it last.

The inspirational book you’ve been wanting to dig into?

It will take a few hours to read, but potentially another hour to implement what you learned to really get the most out of it.

People often talk about “investing” dollars into new purchases that they hope will have a return. But, what you may not have considered before is the investment of our time in those things to get the very most out of them.

I’ve kept a running list Of the things I have invested my money and my time into this year (both personally and in business) that paid off. Here’s my list with some notes on how I invested my time!

10 things I invested in personally that paid off:

1. Date nights. Ari and I wanted to have more date nights in 2017 than we had in 2016. (Our odds of succeeding were good with only 1 date night in 2016!) I mentioned this in a blog post last year and my friend Joselyn texted me immediately after seeing the post. Knowing all we had experienced in 2016, she insisted she babysit as her gift to us. This was a gift of time, and that first date night helped us see how important it is for our family for us to have Time to talk without multitasking for three kids. It spurred us on to invest our dollars and schedules into getting more of that time together. We now have a handful of babysitters we call for date nights that have helped us make this a priority. The double blessing is being able to bless friends and college students in our church with babysitting money too. And our dates are never fancy! We go somewhere inexpensive, and we usually end up going grocery shopping together that same night. It’s a joy to hold hands through the produce section and just be together.

2. Fitbit Charge 2. This is one of the best things we invested in as a family. It took a big commitment to change how we use our time throughout each day: either sedentarily or active. Both Ari and I have been significantly more active because of the FitBit’s hourly reminders to move. We have more than doubled our activity during the day (!!), and we feel more energetic. This has helped me take action on one of my PowerSheets goals: Worship the Lord as I strengthen the body He gave me so I can love others with joy and enthusiasm. The benefits I received from using my FitBits also helped start the fitness initiative for our team (see my standing desks and desk stepper here). I gifted everyone on the team a fitness tracker and together we studied how our activity relates to our productivity and overall job satisfaction. This has been huge for all of us! (Fitbits are on sale today for Black Friday!)

3.  Kids dental flossers. You might giggle at this, but stay with me here! Every time I went to the dentist, I felt the guilt creep up. No, I haven’t been flossing. Again. I know I know, Doc. I’ll try harder! This was such a simple change, but getting these flossers for the kids (no mess with wrapping the regular floss around my fingers and the kids pulling it allllll out of the container) ended up motivating me to make this a daily habit. And you get LOT of flossers (300!) for just $12. Why was this important to me and how did this make the list?? Because everyone in my family has had dental woes. Root canals. Gum grafting. You name it. I’m hoping to avoid all of that with a $12 yearly investment of money and a couple minutes a day! And the first time I went into the dentist after starting my new flossing habit, I felt so good confidently saying, “Yes! I floss and I love it!” 🙂

4.  PowerSheets – Without clarity on where to use my time well, I would surely waste it away in distractions! More than any other year, investing time in my PowerSheets (a mere 20 minutes to an hour a month!) was the number one thing that gave me my time back and helped me invest it in the right things. My PowerSheets have helped me prioritize, stay focused and not waste my time and life on distractions. We’re all so grateful for how the PowerSheets have helped us and you that we couldn’t help but DANCE! My friends, it is with great joy and many laughs that I officially unveil our very first music video!

The Cultivate Team Just Wants to Dance from Lara Casey on Vimeo.

5.  Yearly prayer journal. Filled with my monthly prayers, church notes, and things I’m grateful for, investing time in this journal has helped me cultivate more focused prayer. I bring it to church every Sunday and love looking back at all God has done this year! Studies have proven the power of writing things down in our own messy handwriting: it helps them sink into your brain and you start to change your behavior based on what you wrote. Much like writing down my goals each month in my PowerSheets, I have felt the effect of pen-to-paper heart and head change in using this prayer journal.

6.  The Echo, also known as “Alexa” in our house. This was a larger purchase for us (we bought it a year ago for $179 and they are significantly less today for Black Friday), but it has paid off in surprising ways. Ari’s dad is a composer and I spent most of my life in music and theatre. We use our Echo literally every day, specifically in the mornings, mostly to listen to music.

And we see it shaping our kids.

Music is the movement of sound to reach the soul for the education of its virtue. – Plato

Sarah, in particular, has been changed by the presence of music in our home. She is sensory-seeking and comes alive when there’s a beat or a melody. Her eyes light up and her body can’t help but move with joy!

This is most certainly a luxury and not a necessity, but having the ability to use this device hands-free has been one of the biggest benefits. I don’t have to have a phone in my hand. And I usually have one or two kids in my hands, so before this playing music didn’t happen as often!

We have family dance parties to worship music, play Italian favorites for pizza night, turn on composers we are studying in homeschool while the kids play, and, aside from music, I make full use of the shopping list and other features like listening to the Bible and Audible books while I cook or clean the kitchen. Grace loves asking Alexa to tell us jokes, too! There’s more time investment I hope to make here in the new year as I teach the kids different music styles and about music and culture. This excites me!

7.  The garden and my plants. We spend a lot of time out in the garden as a family, tending to the tomatoes, picking flowers, and getting our hands dirty. It’s not just a refreshing place for me to be tech-free and get some fresh air, but it has become the place where our kids’ imaginations grow and flourish. We added some fairy garden items to the garden this year and Grace’s imagination ran wild! Josh has loved picking tomatoes to snack on and Sarah can’t get enough of watching the butterflies and bees. The lessons we learn in the garden are endless and our time there is never wasted! Follow @GraciesGarden and get a copy of my new book, Cultivate, for more from the garden.

8. Amber-colored lightbulbs for better sleep. When my hormones started ch-ch-ch-changing this year (I’ll be 38 on December 27th!), my sleep quality began to suffer. I set out to do whatever I could naturally to help my body rest: lavender oil, no screen exposure at night, etc. But the thing that helped the most was changing our bedside lightbulbs to amber-colored bulbs. Fluorescent lights, laptops, and cellphone screens contain a high level of blue light that disrupts melatonin production and throws off our natural circadian rhythms—keeping us awake when we should be sleeping. Many sleep specialists suggest that this widespread exposure to blue light, long after the sun has set, is a major contributor to the modern epidemic of insomnia. However, the amber-spectrum light emitted by firelight and candlelight demonstrates no negative effect on melatonin production.SomniLight. I am sleeping much more soundly now, and noticed a marked difference on the few nights I had to be on my phone later than usual or look at a blue screen!

9. Changing how I dress and the way I think about it. I have been thinking about how to write about this for an entire year! I have wrestled with the tension of how clothes are an earthly thing, and how God certainly doesn’t need us to dress well to live intentionally. But, something happened this year with me and clothing that did help me live more intentionally. For my birthday last December, Ari gifted me a consultation with our close friend, Joslyn (yes, the same friend who gifted is a night of babysitting early this year!), who is a personal stylist. Let me tell you that nothing about this would have excited me (I have never been into clothes or fashion!) if it weren’t for the fact that this was with Joslyn and I know her heart. She has been a gift in our lives in many ways, specifically through our adoption process and after we brought Sarah home. She is one of the most faithful, selfless, God-led women I know. Before I did this consultation with her, I feared that personal styling was all about external looks… until she came over to my house.

God used Josyln to teach me how to live my everyday life with a new integrity–matching my outside to my inside. My outside before was like a protective covering, clinging to the past and to who I falsely believed I was. I was afraid to be myself. Afraid to show my curls. Afraid to move forward and step into the new person God had molded me to be after all of the change we went through in 2016. It was a year of heart change, as I wrote about in Cultivate.

Through the process of letting go of clothes that I didn’t need and kept me hiding in that protective shell, I experienced a shift.

There’s really so much more to write here, but I’ll keep it simple and tell you the practical stuff. We took everything out of my closet and Kondo’d it–examining how each item made me feel, how it practically helped me serve others, and why I was holding onto it. I had spent the previous few years not buying much new clothing at all thanks to the Contentment Challenge, but I still ended up giving away 2/3 of my clothes that day with Joslyn. It felt so good. Fewer choices. All things I felt content in. I felt free.

Joslyn helped me choose a few new staples from budget-friendly stores like Old Navy (50% off today), J Crew Factory (50-60% off today) and Target (most of which we got 40% off when the early spring sales started). She also showed me how to mix and match clothes for work, and she encouraged me to step it up–take some risks and wear things that make me feel like I’m ready for anything.

At our Fall Team Summit, in reflecting on the year so far, Emily said to me, “Your outside matches your inside and it’s really inspiring.” I’m so grateful. I feel like I am more respectful of my team and I’ve been able to step into more corporate settings with confidence. And it didn’t cost an arm and a leg–just a perspective shift, a lot of things given away to clear the clutter that was holding me back.

There you have it. I blogged about clothes! (And it will likely never happen again! Ha!) I still don’t love fashion, but I do love feeling content right where I am and having less choices to make each morning.

10. The YouVersion Bible app. This is where I invested the most consistent time this year as part of my number one goal (much in part to the PowerSheets motivating me to keep going!). The app is free, and it cost me 10-20 minutes each day. Every bit of that time has been fruitful! I often quote Karen Lamb in saying, “A year from now, you’ll wish you had started today.” I am grateful I started this goal almost a year ago–and I can’t wait to do it again in 2018!

Okay, let’s talk business! Here are the 10 things I invested in for our business that paid off:

1.  Joining C12. Will Ray (husband of my friend Nancy Ray) has been our business financial coach for several years now, helping me gain business financial literacy, and most of all, helping me do business with God’s wisdom. A year and half ago, he took a leap of faith out of business coaching and into leading a C12 group here in our local area. C12 is a group of Christian CEO’s (12 members per group) that meet together once a month to help grow each other’s businesses and faith. When Will invited me to come to a meeting to give it a try, I was honored to be asked and also intimidated! Most of the group has been in business far longer than me, and their businesses are large. And spending all day away from the kiddos once a month didn’t seem like it would work for my life season. How could I step away for an entire day? But, with the blessing of my team and Ari, I went once and never looked back. I come back refreshed and excited about not just work, but motherhood and homeschool and marriage, every time. It has been a powerful thing in my life to spend all day with a group of gentlemen who humbly love the Lord and lead their businesses from that same humility. I have often pinched myself in being at the table with them. I still feel like the smallest fish in the pond, but this group has blessed me deeply, and I’m grateful to have helped their businesses grow as well. The financial and time investment, including all the time I have spent implementing the many things I have learned through C12, has been exponentially valuable in our business and in the maturing of my faith.

2. Business coaching. I’m an Enneagram type 1 and, at heart, an emotional decision-maker and a sensitive soul! Having a sounding-board each week in making decisions has been so valuable for me (and in turn my team and husband and kiddos!). Diana helped me push through finishing Cultivate, take the leap into homeschool, implement what I’ve been learning this year through C12, and most of all she has always directed me to God’s wisdom. We talk on that level each week, we pray, and God is the one who does the heavy lifting!

3. Grammarly. You guys! Grammarly is the BEST. This yearly subscription (I paid $139.95 which comes to 11.66/month) has saved me and my team countless hours in copyediting! Using this tool in blog writing, email correspondence, product creation, and long-form writing has led me to invest time in learning to be a better writer. Becoming a more skilled writer has led me to become a better communicator, and that is a benefit that has no price tag! Well-written words can shape relationships, hearts, and entire cultures.

4. EOS principles. The thing that has had the most tactical impact on our business is implementing EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System) principles this year. Encouraged by Will Ray, we began with changing our meeting structures in May and everything else followed… and I mean EVERYTHING! For a solid EOS primer, read Traction. You will be so glad you did!

5. PowerSheets – I know I have listed this twice, but for good reason. We have used PowerSheets as a team for the last three years and they have delivered. They have helped us uncover good goals, make action plans, and celebrate progress.

6. Asana is the project management system we use, and it’s safe to say it has more than doubled our productivity. We used to do everything in email and on paper lists. Projects would get forgotten about, tasks would fall through the cracks, and our inboxes were craycray. Asana brings it all in one hub, allowing our team to work together without the use of our inboxes for the most part. It does take an investment of time to learn to use it effectively, which we are constantly improving, but it’s worth the time invested. Simply put, we get more of the right things done. (Bonus: be sure to hunt for the Tab-B feature. You will thank me! Meow! ; ) )

7. The Making Things Happen Conference. I’ve led this conference for the last 9 years and I’ve also done the work right alongside the attendees every time. The tactical experience and clarity uncovered in this conference have been a fast-forward button on my personal and professional goals. Experiencing MTH is like doing PowerSheets in-person with a room full of passionate women who make what matters happen. It’s my favorite event of the year! Over half of the seats are gone for our spring conference. Get yours before our early-bird rate ends!

8. CAI. As a small business, I have been our finance, HR, and get-more-printer-paper departments! Until four weeks ago. CAI is a non-profit here in North Carolina that offers on-demand HR and legal services to its members at a fraction of the cost of a full-time HR expert. Our membership for a team of 9 is $900 for the year as compared to the $6K starting rate I was quoted for an individual HR consultant. Our membership has already paid for itself after one month! As part of our membership, we get access to 24/7 HR advising by phone or email (which we have already used four times!), legal support, employee handbook creation, and so much more. Thank you, CAI!

9. Zoom.We have four team members who work here in NC with me and five that work remotely from various other states. To stay connected each day, we had been using Google hangouts for video calls. But, the constant connection issues and dropped calls led us to seek a more reliable solution. Enter, Zoom! The old saying goes, “There are no deals.” Sometimes when you don’t pay for something (Google hangouts), you get what you pay for! Making the decision to pay a small monthly fee for Zoom has been a game-changer for our team. We connect more often and with zero tech troubles!

10. Steadfast bookkeeping. One of the biggest business woes I’ve experienced over the years is unreliable bookkeepers. My team knows. This is been the bane. of. my. business. existence. I like accuracy and dependability, and I finally found both plus a great client experience in Steadfast bookkeeping. Praise the Lord! Working with Stephanie and Sarah has been delightful! I can’t recommend them enough.

I’d love to hear! What did you invest your time or money in this year that paid off?

P.S. Our Black Friday / Cyber Monday sale is ON (our biggest sale of the year!), and so many intentional gifts are on sale!

Affiliate links are used in this post. All proceeds are donated!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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. 

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

gardening-giveaway-+-curls

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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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.

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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.

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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 home to 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???

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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.

Brick wall.

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.

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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.

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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.

Yes.

That’s it.

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.

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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.

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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.

By His grace I am Grace, Josh, and Sarah‘s mom.

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!

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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?

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Hi! Yay!

I’m so grateful you hopped over here. : )

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!

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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.

I can’t wait to get to know you.

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