Aug 1, 2023

August Goals

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God in His own right hand doth take each day—
Each sun-filled day—each rare and radiant night.
And drop it softly on the earth and say:
“Touch earth with heaven’s own beauty and delight.”

– “August” by Jean Blewett

Thank you for your kind words on my last post here and here. I am grateful for your encouragement and the gift of sharing our lives with each other—the changes, challenges, and joys!

July was full and abundant, like the garden right now. And, like the garden, there were gifts (our first carrots of the season, tomatoes, and blooming sunflowers!)—and a few weeds to pull and garden pests that tried to creep in. My proverbial garden foes were a sense of overwhelm and knowing the year mark was just ahead.

The first carrot of the season! Eeee!!! Gracie has relished her time in the garden the last month!

You see, I knew August was coming.
I’ve been thinking about it for 11 months since my dad died on a brilliant afternoon last August.
I’ve recounted where I was the year prior as each month and day has passed—where he was and what we were feeling and experiencing together. What did he say to me? Did he smile as I sang to him? What did it feel like to hold his hand in the hospital bed? Was he fading then? Was he warm? Was he in pain? I remember some details and some I cling to as they begin to fade. All these reflections have been steeping in my soul, like a cup of tea, all waiting for me drink deep of their gifts in late August. I don’t know what it will be like on that exact day and time. August 28th at 3:30 is ever-etched in my mind. I don’t know how I’ll feel or what I’ll do, but I know that I’ll enter a new season on the anniversary of his homecoming.

I didn’t manufacture this expectation. I didn’t plan to have a pounding desire to remember, reflect, and release. It is, I believe, in us because grief can’t stay in us. It must, instead, move through us—and it changes us as it does. It never leaves for good; it just changes. The Jewish mourning traditions, which center around the first year after a loved one’s death, have comforted me this year and reminded me to let this time have its space. Grief shows up unexpectedly and takes hold of you till you relent and roll out the welcome mat. This year has been a time of personal transformation. It has been a time of new life coming out of grief—like a seed in the dark soil losing its outer shell to grow, it has been a merciful gift birthed from a refining season. I didn’t think I’d be smiling on the other side, but the joy runs deeper now. Sorrow and love flow mingled down, indeed. I am grateful.

“Biltmore. If you ask me, they should have built LESS.” – my husband, everyone

More to come at the end of August as I have time to celebrate Dad’s life and listen to the Lord on this anniversary. For now, here is a recap of July. It was a month of memory-making and squeezing the last bit of summer fun in before we start homeschool this week.

A few highlights from July:

—Finishing many of our home repairs and renovations. The bigger projects are done; praise the Lord. No more flooding in our house, Lord willing, and we love our refreshed spaces. I hope to get you some before and after photos in early September.
—Josh’s birthday party! His nickname has always been “Bro,” so this year, we had a “Bro-BQ” with hot dogs, hamburgers, and lots of water fun in the heat. His birthday falls right before school starts, and it’s always a big friend reunion before the year starts. Such a joy to celebrate our sweet guy!
—Going to the Biltmore after five-ish years (when the younger two were still in the double stroller!). The kids listened to the history audio while we toured and it was fun to watch their eyes widen as they learned about the remarkable architecture, gardens, and library. We also did the Italian Renaissance Art Alive exhibit. This was especially good to get a preview of some of the artists we’ll be studying in the year ahead!
—Homeschool planning. This yearly pursuit took over my July. Stacks and stacks of books, oh my! It’s Christmas in July around here.
—My weight training. I am gaining muscle, and my joints are feeling better every day. This month’s unofficial goal is to write a health update on the blog.
—Making homeschool mom friends. I didn’t have much time to invest in this community when I was CEO-ing, and this has been a JOY to grow deeper roots.
—Doing “The 36 Questions that Lead to Love” with Ari in the mountains. They “worked,” and we felt much closer after going through them – highly recommend!
—The garden. A big highlight from the month has been enjoying the zinnias, sleeping bees, and garden treasures. It has been magical!

An early morning peek at our garage-turned-wellness space as it was being finished. I can’t wait to show you the final space!

You know all those books you’ve always wanted to read? You should go READ them. <- on repeat to myself this month as I worked to set a new habit. It worked! A la Atomic Habits, I declared that I am the kind of person who reads many great books and puts them into practice. IYKYK. Affiliate links are below – enjoy!

What I read or listened to:

Atomic Habits – Yes, I am the last person to read this, and yes, I (of course) enjoyed what he teaches. Very in line with my first half of life’s work and almost identical to what we taught at the Making Things Happen Conference for ten years (we were onto something back then!). An excellent resource.
The Whole-Brained Child – It took me maybe five years to get through this book. I digested it bit by bit and finally buckled down to give it a full and focused read this month. No surprise, it was insightful and timely for our ages and stages.
Little House in the Big Woods and Farmer Boy – Our third (?) time through with Cherry Jones’s narration, and it never ceases to make me feel joy and wonder. Farmer Boy, in particular, made me cry this time in the last chapter; it was so moving.
Habits of the Household – Five stars, two thumbs up, and a few cartwheels thrown in for good measure. This was my favorite read of the year so far, so much so that I cannot pick just one favorite part. Read Em’s review for a few highlights we share!
—For my yearly refresher on homeschool philosophy, l feasted on a buffet of episodes from the Simply Charlotte Mason podcast.
“We Need Secret Gardens” – An article Emily sent me shares my heart for why we are Charlotte Mason homeschoolers. Such a beautiful read!

Our longest hike with the kids – 8 miles in Umstead State Park!

In progress:
Sacred Rhythms – My sense of overwhelm this last month came from moving too fast and doing too much alongside homeschool planning and mounting grief. This has long been on my TBR list, and it has been a balm for my hurried soul.
Falling Upward – I resisted reading this, and while I don’t agree with some of his core theology, this is mostly a poignant study on mid-life. It has enlivened me in this second-half journey.
Parenting by Paul David Tripp – Another book I’ve wanted to read. I’ve already been punched in the gut several times by his words.

Also in progress:
—I made steps forward or completed all my July goals except painting. It took longer than expected to clear a space in my office for this, and now it has been overtaken by stacks of homeschool books for the upcoming year. I will do it this month to honor Dad, who always wanted me to be a painter! 🙂

At the Apex 4th of July bike parade! The kids had SO much fun decorating their bikes and getting sprayed down by the firetruck!

My August goals were fueled by the Mid-Year Refresh in the PowerSheets. The process never fails to clarify my focus and make me want to take action—no need for forced motivation. My goals matter to me in the big picture, so I want to take action. I’m grateful for another month to tackle what God has given me to do. This month we’re headed to Iceland and starting school!

What are you focusing on in August? Do we share any goals? I’d love to hear!

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12 Comments

  1. Dawn on August 1, 2023 at 6:36 pm

    You write beautifully. Sending hugs and prayers your way always. Sending you extra as you go through this month 🙏❤️ I have the Atomic Habits book beside and still haven’t opened it yet 😉. I finished reading Cultivate, I read it very slowly noticing new parts that spoke to me. Your garage gym looks amazing!! So good to see you and your smile Lara! Your dad would be so proud of all you’ve done and are doing. ❤️❤️

    • Lara on August 1, 2023 at 7:04 pm

      Your words and kindness in them mean so much, Dawn. Thank you for all of this! And I am so glad Cultivate encouraged you.💐

  2. Kayse Pratt on August 1, 2023 at 7:39 pm

    That first year anniversary is the hardest. And you’re right, you don’t choose it or manufacture it, but your body holds the grief, the memories, and it just knows the date is coming.

    My best friend and I always say we can tell pretty quickly if a person has been through a significant loss or not. Grief leaves its mark in the way you approach the world. Life is different on the other side. In some ways more awful, but in a lot of ways more deep, more meaningful, less surface-y. You’re clearer on what matters, especially on how completely dependent we are on the Lord.

    Praying that this month holds unexpected joy for you, and also that you’re able to experience all of your feelings, all of your memories, and keep bringing them back to the feet of Jesus, who loves you so much and promises His presence every step of the way. 💛

  3. Sara Moon on August 1, 2023 at 8:05 pm

    You always inspire me. Thank you for the loving push that I need to get up and complete my powersheets.

  4. Emily D. on August 1, 2023 at 8:19 pm

    Your kids are so BIG and even more adorable! They’re so cute!
    I’ve also been gaining strength this year and it feels so good. Consistency really is the key–and growing slowly at the same time. 🙂
    This month I’m preparing for my big trip to Edinburgh next month! It’s my first time overseas and I cannot WAIT for that adventure.
    I’m glad you’re taking the time to grieve and give yourself what you need. <3

  5. Kendra Phillabaum on August 1, 2023 at 9:03 pm

    I love reading your blog! So grateful for your godly insights and encouragement! I’d love to hear more about what you are using for homeschooling. This will be our 4th year. I’ve enjoyed your homeschool planner!

    • Diane Taylor on August 2, 2023 at 1:21 pm

      Hi Lara this post really resonated with me. Like you (and many of us), I lost my precious son Jonathan Daily on 3/1/12 at 9:08pm. He was 24 and my only child. Like you, I marked time from that fateful moment that changed everything. Grief takes over and every day since has been a battle inside me. Guilt grew and also took over. I never got to see him or say good bye. His apartment caught fire and he was overcome by the smoke. I felt (and still feel) awful that he died alone. But as the years have passed I learned to live with grief and guilt weaved around the joy I try desperately to find each day (and I do find it!) Since Jonathan’s death I have lost my father in 2017 and my baby sister in 2021 to brain cancer. I pray for you to continue your own unique grief journey where ever it leads you. Sending love as you prepare your heart for the sadness that comes with an anniversary like this.

      God bless you and your sweet family!

      Diane Taylor

  6. Emily E on August 1, 2023 at 10:05 pm

    I love SO much about this post friend, mostly that you are finding joy in the every day. Also, Sacred Rhythms is one of my very favorite reads. I’m also loving her book on Sabbath and Sabbatical 💕. Love you!

  7. Joy on August 2, 2023 at 8:05 am

    I’m glad you’re recognizing the need to make space for grief. When I hit the one-year anniversary of my mother’s homegoing, it was hard, but I also felt the need to live in the new normal. I still miss her after 18 years and think of her often, even with tears sometimes, but the Lord sustains and comforts us in our sorrow.

    Praying and reading are two of my goals, too. I loved seeing Charlotte Mason’s “I am, I can, I ought, I will” on your power sheets. My boys and I often quoted that saying while we were homeschooling many years ago. Have a wonderful school year with your precious children.

  8. Em on August 2, 2023 at 3:03 pm

    The carrot!! The Bro-BQ! The Biltmore photo! The garage gym!! Love this update so very much and will be thinking of you even more than usual as we approach the 28th ❤️

  9. Sarah on August 10, 2023 at 4:54 pm

    I have been reading your blog for…10+ years? (Our daughters are the same age and it was before you had Grace.) Your blog never ceases to encourage and move me. Thank you for sharing. It has been a privilege going on this journey with you. So many changes and discoveries over the last several years and, Lord willing, many more to go!
    Looking forward to your next post!
    Sarah

    • Lara on August 10, 2023 at 6:48 pm

      This means so much, Sarah, and I am so grateful for all these years! Grateful for you!

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