Dec 21, 2022

2023 Goal Setting: Looking Back

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What a year! Friends, I am SO grateful to have done my PowerSheets over the last few weeks. I wept, I prayed, I learned, and I feel energized by my goals for the year ahead. Before going through the process, I would have told you 2022 was the hardest year. Period. That’s where the sentence would have ended. I lost my Dad. I had a sleepless season with the business acquisition. Despite my best efforts, I experienced health challenges. There were layers of grief and pain. After writing and reflecting, I see a deeper truth: it was the hardest and best year because God was in it all. Reflection reaps rewards.

My spot the last few days with my PowerSheets

I’ll share my goals in three parts this year: Looking Back, Looking Forward, and finally, my 2023 Goals. Affiliate links are used in this post. Enjoy!

Here we go!

Looking back at my 2022 Goals was encouraging. Even in a year with unexpected challenges, I made progress on all of them—some significant. I was shocked reading my list! Most of my goal progress didn’t happen the way I thought it would (hello, “Sabbatical Year” at work), but that’s the beauty of prayerfully setting goals and letting God direct our steps each day. I didn’t need to know the plan, just the direction. For more on God + Goals, see my YouVersion plan here. I recorded audio for you each day, too. Enjoy!

I experienced what felt like three years in one during 2022. These distinct periods of time held vastly different experiences. There was the first part of the year as Dad’s health began to decline, and God awakened us to the fleeting gift of time with our children and each other. Then, there was the second part in due diligence with Cultivate. God took me on a wild and unexpected ride that stretched me to my limits. All the while, Dad was dying, and I was fighting hard for time with him. And then came the third part: Dad’s homecoming and figuring out life after it all.


In 2022:
— I focused on small habits throughout the year. Little by little steps added up in a year I really needed it – quite literally. I took 14k steps each day. Many of my morning walks turned into times of prayer and tears.
— I read the Bible daily, finishing the Old Testament in 2 years plan we did with friends and moving on to the New.
— I got consistent with weight training after 10+ years of flailing. I did weights every other day and core on the days between. I was tired of feeling weak and determined to do whatever I could to help support my neck. Frustration can be good fuel, friends! When we traveled, I’d use whatever I had: cans of soup, rocks, anything.
— I went to what felt like 846 doctor’s appointments and had 5 MRIs, one neck injection, and a partridge in a pear tree.
— In January, Dad went to the hospital. He never quite recovered.
— Our kids got in a car accident, totaling our van. The other driver wasn’t looking and t-boned our car on the way home from school. The kids had whiplash and were quite shaken up. It was a hard experience for them.
— We felt God telling us that life is short. We sped up our timeline for getting an RV.
— Dad crashed his 1994 Tahoe, the end of driving for him and the end of a memory-filled legacy with our family car.
— Ari and I celebrated 16 years of marriage and spent it with my parents in Florida. This ended up being our last visit all together.
— The kids had many firsts: a sleepover and a special parasailing adventure with me for Grace; baseball, soccer, and karate for Josh; gymnastics and swimming for Sarah. They loved it all.
— The kids learned knife skills in the kitchen and how to cook. Josh is quite the kitchen whiz!
— Everyone took up rock climbing.
— In April, after a pivotal visit with Dad in the hospital and many years of prayer and counsel, we started the process of Cultivate being acquired. We spent an unprecedented 90 days in due diligence (most acquisitions take 6 months to a year, for good reason) and made it through by the grace of God.
— During this time, we somehow learned how to use an RV, made all the mistakes, and took trips to Gatlinburg, Roan Mountain, Williamsburg, Maryland/DC, Corolla, a horse farm in Aberdeen, and a state park near Charlotte. I missed much of these trips, spending them on Zoom or the phone, moving things forward. I knew in the big picture, I was going to get more time with my family, and it meant risking the sacrifice of time in the short term. This was one of the most taxing things I’ve done, but I knew it was what God wanted in the long run.
— I had my last Cultivate shoot. I savored that time creating with dear friends.
— Cultivate was officially acquired on June 30th.

My world changed.

— Dad went to the hospital for good.
— I helped my mom sell my Dad’s ophthalmology practice of 50+ years.
— The garden grew. A favorite: the brilliant blue forget-me-nots.
— Ari and I spent many days apart, juggling childcare with dad in the hospital. I spent most of the late summer going back and forth between North Carolina and Florida, most of the time with kids and some of the time without when Dad got very sick. It was a hard balance to keep their spirits up from the heaviness of it all and be fully present with Dad. There was a lot of spiritual growth that happened in our kids during this season. We decorated Dad’s hospital room, sang to him, told him jokes, and helped my mom. I took a total of 64 flights to be with Dad in the hospital. All the Skymiles I’d saved for many years went to the best use to have this time with Dad.
— I read Being Mortal. It changed how I experienced the last months with Dad and how we helped him live his best days in hospice.
— The kids learned how to fish, continuing a generational legacy in our family.
— The garden continued to grow in NC, thanks to the care of friends, kind neighbors, and my sweet husband. We had a “free flower stand” in honor of Dad one weekend.
— We went to Colonial Williamsburg and came home with colonial COVID.
— Days later, in August, Dad had several more strokes and seizures. We made the difficult decision to bring him home for hospice. Bringing him home was hard and a huge gift. There it is again – both/and. He wanted to come home, and we wanted to give him his best last days.
— I cleared my COVID test and flew back to Florida for the most memorable days of my life. I praise the Lord for the gift of this intimate time with Dad, my mom, and my brother.
— While Dad slept, my brother and I cleaned out his closet and books. It was eerie to do while he was still living, yet necessary to ensure my mom didn’t have to do it alone after he passed and we had all gone home. There wasn’t even a conversation about it – Stephen and I instinctively did it. We knew it was the next right thing. Dad didn’t have much stuff and never wanted material possessions of his own. He did have some favorite books, though: Mere Christianity, Don’t Know Much About the Bible, and several stacks of poetry and history. He wrote notes in the margins. I brought many of them home and treasure his scribbled reflections.

— We celebrated Dad’s 87th birthday on August 26th. He was surrounded by friends.
— Two days later, on a bright Sunday afternoon after church, I walked Dad home.

Life was different now.

— I wrote Dad’s obituary. I gave his eulogy.
— School started two days after Dad’s funeral.
— I tried to go back to normal life. Nothing was normal or the same, though.
— I couldn’t drive a car. I’d forget things. I’d lose track of my phone.
— I got mad at all the stuff in our house and grieved as I cleared things out. I took many trips to Goodwill.
— I pulled out the garden for winter and planted a new winter garden in honor of Dad.
— We grew lettuce for the first time and collards, kale, and rainbow chard. Somehow, it all felt healing in this season, going out in the garden to get food God grew for us for our meals.
— I tried to be easy on myself, yet was consistently unsuccessful. I did my best to lower my expectations. God is growing me here.
— We continued our homeschool journey. Some days felt impossible to teach in the midst of grief, and on others, I was given courage by our reading.
— I took a grief retreat. It was one night, and it was needed.
— I tried to help our kids grieve, too. We talked about Grandpa David and normalized grieving in our home. We took walks. We spent time in the sunshine. I took them to the fair. We did Halloween. They camped under the stars for the first time.
— I read books. I learned new things.
— I started listening to podcasts for the first time in my life. I never had brain space for it before. I am thankful for the gift of learning.
— Thanks to my reading, we got rid of several toxins in our home and kitchen. I thought we were a pretty healthy bunch, but we made some changes to help us all thrive (think sneaky food dyes and chemicals). A few new favorites: these dryer balls instead of dryer sheets, KOS organic protein + Ancient Nutrition Multi Collagen instead of my beloved Vega powder I used for years, Molly’s Suds laundry powder, and these sprouted almonds are a hit in our house.
— I started cooking. I mean, really cooking. My creativity was often employed at work, and I transferred some of that to our family meals. I’ve learned new things and it has been worth it. For the first time in my life, I have been meal planning. Emily, I know you are proud 🙂 My french chef mom is, too.
— With a diet and supplement overhaul, I got my iron levels in check after years of chronic anemia. This iron supplement has been a life-saver, and I even take it on an empty stomach. This has been a win for my energy in this second half of the year, and Lord willing, for the rest of my life.
— Our church family continued to be a blessing in our lives and the lives of our children.
— We had Thanksgiving without Dad. I read poetry in his honor at dinner.
— We planned a minimal Christmas.
— I started writing again here for the sheer joy of connecting with you. It has felt like the old days, and each encouraging comment has meant the world.
— We sold our RV to a wonderful couple who had also walked through a year of grief and loss. It was a gift to meet them and send our Wayfarer off to new adventures. What a blessing it was to our kids and us this season. We’re considering a trailer for a future season.
— Ari celebrated a year at his new job. His company was also acquired this year. My mom, Ari, and I have lived parallel lives this year with companies passed to new hands. I don’t think this was a coincidence – we were able to support each other through the challenges, and mom and I were able to thank God and grieve together. While it is a blessing to have a business move to new and wonderful hands, it’s also a loss of what we’ve known for so long. There has been a lot of both/and in 2022.
— Our kids lost a collective 13 teeth. The Tooth Fairy is ready to retire.
— I got a sewing machine. Generations in my family have sewn with great love, and I finally feel ready to learn. This sewing machine, and all it entails, is the marker of a turning point. My mom is coming for Christmas, and I’ve already asked her to teach me while she’s here.
— Ari and I enjoyed our annual holiday dinner with the local Cultivate ladies and their gents. 13 years and counting, I hope to continue this tradition forever and ever. This is a special time, recounting God’s faithfulness in our lives together, no matter what comes our way or what changes.

There’s so much more to write—so much I didn’t write. What I couldn’t capture in words is the living between these milestones: the faith grown, the life shared, and the love of generous friends. I am ending this year knowing more about my need for Him and His love for us. God was in it all. In that, I count this as the best year.

Next up in my PowerSheets goal series… looking forward.

Your turn! What were some of your challenges and good things from 2022? What rewards did you reap in reflecting? I’d love to hear!

24 Comments

  1. Em on December 21, 2022 at 3:41 pm

    Whew!!!!!! What a journey of a year. It is amazing to think of you standing at the precipice of 2022 and not knowing so much of what the year would hold. But you walked each step with grace and intention, and I am so proud of you for that. Grateful to get to read these reflections!

    • Lara on December 27, 2022 at 3:22 pm

      A wild one! I am grateful to journey with you always. I can share the same encouragement right back with you: you’ve walked each step with grace and intention — and abundant courage and love!

      • Audrey on January 3, 2023 at 12:17 pm

        Lara, thank you for your transparency. I have missed you over the last 2 years but I admire your courage in doing the next right thing for yourself and your family. I pray for your continued healing and connection even without your dad.

  2. Brooke on December 21, 2022 at 10:53 pm

    Wow, Lara, what a year. I’m not actually sure that we got to see each other in person this year, but I loved being able to hear your voice by text a couple of times. I think this is always the most powerful part of the Powersheets process for me; every time, I think, “Nothing happened this year,” and then somehow a list like this (well, a list not QUITE as impactful as. this one) develops. I would love to see you – and hear about your Williamsburg trip sometime! I went to William & Mary for college, not sure if you knew that. : )

    • Lara on December 27, 2022 at 3:23 pm

      Is it weird to say I can’t remember if we saw each other either?? What a year. I know I saw you at the pop-up shop last year, and I think that was the last time in person. We need to fix that! We love you. Thinking of you often.

  3. Abby on December 21, 2022 at 10:54 pm

    Lara,

    What a gift your words have been to read! You live such a powerful testament of the importance of resurrendering day after day, moment by moment and for that I am grateful.

    • Lara on December 27, 2022 at 3:24 pm

      That means so much, Abby, and gives me courage for the future. Thank you. Sending love to you in this new year ahead!

  4. Kristin Schmucker on December 22, 2022 at 5:28 pm

    Whew. What a year. I am in awe of all that took place this year and how God ordained for our stories to overlap this year. Continuing to pray for you in this season of grief and as you step into a new year.

    • Lara on December 27, 2022 at 3:24 pm

      Thank you, Kristin! I am grateful for you!

  5. Ashley Wells on December 23, 2022 at 12:40 pm

    What a year!!!

  6. Jenny on December 23, 2022 at 4:57 pm

    Lara, I am so thankful God carried you through all of this. Your faith and the way you savor blessings, even through hardship, is such a blessing to everyone who reads your work. Thank you for sharing your process with us!

    This year I had some both/and. We have been TTC for more than two years now, so processing that has had its ups and downs. But I do think through it all I have learned a bit more about the unique the goodness of God in seasons of suffering and waiting. It’s funny – I feel like suffering Christians always share remarkably similar pearls of wisdom. I “knew” this before, but now I know it in a deep, experiential way instead of just in my head. Very thankful.

    • Lara on December 27, 2022 at 3:20 pm

      This is true, Jenny – the shared pearls of wisdom found in varied grief. I’ll say a prayer for you as God continues to show you His goodness in painful things. Sending so much love for this year ahead.

  7. Hanni on December 23, 2022 at 6:49 pm

    So glad you are still writing on your blog. I miss when everyone had blogs instead of Instagram. I’m sorry for how much loss got have experienced. I lost my dad 8 years ago and reading your words brought me back to those days of fog and low energy and just feeling not myself. It won’t be forever. God will give you treasures hidden in darkness. Peace to you!

    • Lara on December 27, 2022 at 3:18 pm

      The “fog” you describe is exactly what it felt like. I’m sorry you lost your dad as well. Thank you for this wisdom and for your generous words, Hanni. And I also miss the days when everyone had blogs instead of Instagram : )

  8. Suzanne Landry on December 24, 2022 at 8:00 pm

    Lara, THANK YOU for sharing so much of yourself with us. I’m sad to say that I did not discover Powersheets until last year, and it turned out to be such a crazy year in my life as a teacher that I never got around to the prep work until the summer and fizzled out on doing much else with them . . . which is just all the more evidence that I need them, right?!? Lol. Nevertheless, I have been tuned in to your voice through your blog, your books, and your podcast episodes, and I am ever grateful for the lessons and the wisdom you share with us all. I was truly sad in a way to learn that you were leaving Cultivate, but I also have mad respect for the fact that you are living out the principles you’ve been teaching. You are walking the walk and living your life focused on what matters most for you and your family in a new and different season of your own life. No one can argue with that. You’ve passed the baton on to some delightful ladies who are continuing to cultivate a wonderful community around Powersheets, and I am grateful for them, too. With all that you’ve done so far, you’ve planted and nurtured countless seeds in others that will continue to grow even as you explore new pathways in your own life. Your legacy lives on, and the light of the Lord continues to shine through you. I can already hear Him saying to you, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” Love and blessings to you and your family as you navigate this first Christmas without your dad. I’m so glad you’re continuing to post on your blog, and I’ll be here cheering you on as we all move into 2023. And yes, I quieted the voice in my head that said I didn’t deserve new Powersheets when I hadn’t used the old ones, and THIS year, little by little, I’m going to find my own path forward and go do some of those things I’ve always wanted to do! 🙂

    • Lara on December 27, 2022 at 3:17 pm

      Your kind wishes feel like a much-needed bear hug, Suzanne. Wow, thank you for all of this! What a gift to have you here and take this little-by-little journey with you!

  9. Sarah on December 26, 2022 at 7:26 am

    You are living out what you have taught us all. Thank you for continuing to share.

    • Lara on December 27, 2022 at 3:15 pm

      Thank you for this kind encouragement, Sarah!

  10. Amy on December 27, 2022 at 8:04 am

    This is really sweet. It’s been refreshing to see you back on here. I’m sure there’s such a variety of thoughts on ways to use what God is teaching you but I love the stillness of this space. I am not on social media right now (and perhaps I won’t go back) so I am thankful for this blog and the opportunity to lean into the Lord. Just like a garden can be a beautiful respite for those who pass through there is an unseen gardener who labors unseen. I pray you are blessed in the ways that you labor in the quiet and unseen ways that produces fruit and a place of respite for those who pass by and are refreshed.

    • Lara on December 27, 2022 at 3:15 pm

      Amy, your words mean so much. I will carry this image of the quiet gardener with me through this new season – thank you! I’m wishing the same for you as you grow good things where you are with the Lord.

  11. Rosie on December 27, 2022 at 3:30 pm

    Lara,
    I recently went through and “caught up” on your year. I am so sorry about the loss of your dad. I unexpectedly lost father four years ago in October. Grief really is a strange thing. I rejoice that you had so long with him– and that he is with our Savior! My dad did not see fifty, but I know he is with our Savior, too.

    Thank you for being so generous to continue blogging and sharing your light and story. You’ve been a huge inspiration to me in my early years of marriage and motherhood!

    As for me, 2022 the Lord proved SO faithful. He called my husband and I to step out in faith and do something scary: have my husband take a month or two off around the time our fourth child was born. Our plans were 1-2 months… and the Lord’s plans were six! He met every financial need perfectly on time and reopened doors for work. It was a challenge, yes, but also the greatest blessing to have had him home so long. God is good!!

  12. Joy on December 27, 2022 at 8:06 pm

    What a full year of growth and grief. It’s wonderful that you can look back and see the Lord’s hand in all of the events. Thank you for sharing your journey. When my mother died, I found that the grief does get easier to bear even though it never entirely disappears.

    Also, the beauty of homeschooling is that a day when all you do is read books with your children is still a good day.

    • Traci on December 28, 2022 at 8:50 am

      Thank you so much for sharing Lara! Indeed it’s like 3 lifetimes crammed into a year but I appreciate you sharing with us. I lost my mom in 2018 and so much of this feels familiar and like it zoomed by so I admire how you were able to be so present and aware throughout your last moments with your Dad.

      I’m glad to see you so active on your blog again ….I appreciate you bringing us alongside you as you walks God’s plans out for your life.

  13. Emily on December 29, 2022 at 4:33 pm

    Oh, sweet Lara! Big hugs! What a year. I can relate n the idea of living many years within one. I’m so excited to see what God has in store for you and your family.

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