Author: Lara

Oh, March. What a month you were.

Life changed more than we ever expected. Our world has changed, our daily rhythms have changed, and we’re wondering how to move forward—or if we even can. We’re grieving for life as we knew it.

As you try to adjust to this new normal, perhaps part of you doesn’t want to. This “new normal” doesn’t feel normal at all, and you want your life back!

I felt that, too. On Sunday, out in the garden with the kids, I felt a sting of unexpected sorrow as I watched them play. It came on slowly, and I couldn’t shake it. I sat in the kitchen with Ari later that day and wept for our world, for New York, for life as we knew it. The tears and sorrow bubbled over. Together, we processed through many questions you may be asking yourself right now, too:

What if I don’t survive this? Am I ready to pass my legacy on to my children? What if life never returns to normal? How do we adjust to this? How can we give and serve and rise to this occasion to be a light on a hill? How can we look back on this time in our family as a powerful and positive turning point? What will we want to remember about this time years from now?

For some of us, this grief will come in the form of tears. For some, it will come in words. For some, it will come in unexpected ways and at unexpected times, as grief does.

Taking a much-needed walk in the neighborhood with the kids to get out of the house and smell the flowers together.

But, I want you to know it is good.

It’s hard—so very hard—and it’s also good. Whatever you are feeling from day to day and moment to moment, is part of this collective human experience. You are not flawed for feeling a myriad of things; you are human. And we are in this together.

From the one and only Fred Rodgers: “Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable.”

In letting the tears fall and not judging my emotions or words, something welcome happened. I felt acceptance. Life has indeed changed. We’re going to be here for a while. And in that acceptance—painful as it was and will continue to be at times—I opened the gift of perspective.

If we’re going to be here for a while, what am I going to DO with this time?

Grieving life as we knew it has given me the opportunity to see life differently and God has given me the opportunity to see life with great hope!

We may be cooped up this month, but we’re not held back from cultivating what matters. Let’s lament and process and let’s live this life with hope—right where we are, with what we have.

Listen in for more here…


Farmers plant seeds in faith, not knowing exactly how they will grow or what the weather will bring, but taking the risk to plant them anyway, because what if they DO grow?

I’m settling in here and believing in what I can’t yet see. The good we sow here matters more than ever.

Hunting for earthworms in their “Garden School.” : )

When you look back on this time, what will you want to remember?

I want to remember the resilience this grew in our kids.
I want to remember learning how to cut hair for the whole family – Ari included!
I want to remember how I’ll never take a loaf of bread or bananas or hugs for granted ever again.
I want to remember how winter turned to spring right as this pandemic unfolded—a reminder of His faithfulness and that this season will not last forever.
I want to remember the deep connections and rich conversations this experience offered.
I want to remember the flowers and birds and delights in the garden—spring is not canceled!
I want to remember how God led me in this time and led our team. Never have I felt His presence more.
I want to remember Josh telling a friend, “God walks with you.”
And Grace telling me, “Maybe God is just trying to tell us to trust Him.”
I want to remember the creative meals we’ve made from frozen field peas from 2 years ago (!) and whatever we have found deep in the recesses of the freezer!
I want to remember how this experience stretched us and grew us.
I want to remember how this time made us number our days and spurred us to choose what matters.

I want to remember the revival, hope, and connection that began here.

Let’s look back at March with a recap of my PowerSheets progress and how things changed. My April goals are below as well.

March Monthly Goals:
Rest / I needed this more than ever this month. While I was up a lot in the night talking to God, that nightly wrestling led me here. For that, I am grateful.
Plan our summer hiking adventures / To be determined.
Make our summer homeschool plan / Calling this a win. We got online school set up yesterday and I have another goal for this in April.
Prepare the garden / I’ve never planted the garden earlier than I did this year. Every part of my soul just had to do it right now. Seeds are in and we’re excited to watch this Victory Garden grow!
Foster curiosity in our kiddos / Grace made a “Garden School” for the little ones during this time and it’s the cutest thing. My job is to simply foster time there and provide whatever odds and ends they need from the garage!
Love my family, neighbors and team extra well during COVID-19 / I am grateful for God’s power to lead me here.

March Weekly Goals:
Sabbath Our new Sabbath practice during this time is to not look at the news. We’re intentionally resting from our work and the world.
Enjoy reading We finished Heidi and now we’re on to Little Britches with the kids. This nightly rhythm is a respite for us all.
Music in our hearts and home Music has sustained me and lifted me in this time. In the first few days of this experience, I made this playlist and I hope it fills you, too.

March Daily Goals:
All four of these daily goals below have been the most important things I’ve done to thrive in this time. I finished the Write the Word Worship journal early in the month and dove right into the Hope journal. It has been PERFECT for such a time as this. The verses, the space to pour out my thoughts, the gratitude and one word each day—I praise Him for this every night.
Bible reading
Run with Him
Write the Word
Physical Bible time

You were grateful for these resources in March:
— Listen to the most-listened-to episode of the podcast, How to Number Your Days.
— Read Cultivate’s response to COVID-19 and why we are not afraid.
— Learn how to use your Tending List to live intentionally right now (our most popular blog post this month by FAR).
— Listen in to the April PowerSheets PrepCast.
— Get the 3 steps to Thrive in this Season of Uncertainty.
— Browse Cultivate’s new Resource Page full of free tools to help you navigate change during this time.
— Give the new Girls Goal Planner, coming in May, a try with this sneak peek PDF!
— I highly recommend listening to this! How to Refresh Your Goals Right Now. This is about so much more than goals. Leave this live class refueled and equipped to make the most of this time—right where you are.

Onto April. I have 2 goals for 2020 (each with 4 mini goals under them) that are focused on growing something that matters to me in the big picture. Each month, I’m breaking my yearly goals down using my PowerSheets®. Here’s what’s on my Tending List for the month ahead.

April Monthly Goals:
— Thrive in these days. I’m using this new planner notepad to pray on the hour and use this time well. I have LOVED this practice.
— Get Grace’s homeschool + planner set – we’re using her advance copy of the Girls Goal Planner as her home base for thriving in this time, writing out her plan each day for homeschool, fun, and connecting with friends!
— Celebrate Passover and the resurrection
— Start our Legacy Journal for the kids – Ari and I decided to use this journal to document this time for our children. We’re writing what this time was like and how we thrived together through this, with whatever challenges are here and may come. Stories are important and this will be such a gift to them one day—their story of perseverance and overcoming an unprecedented time in history.
— Finish writing notes from books I read in Q1 in my commonplace book

April Weekly Goals:
— Look at the birds – this time has turned my attention to this verse and the songbirds that have been waking us each morning. We bought a couple of bird feeders last month and have been watching the cardinals, chickadees, nuthatches, mockingbirds, and one very brave squirrel with awe and wonder!
— Enjoy the garden and growing seeds
— Sing with Ari – he plays the piano and I’ve been singing this with him – this has been a time of worship for us both!
— Build up our children’s confidence and trust in Him in this time

April Daily Goals:
— Write the Word
— Read the footnotes
— Bible reading
— Run, stretch, lift!

Your turn! What are you doing with this new month you’ve been given? How are you doing? How are you redeeming this time?

May God bless you and give you His peace that passes all understanding!

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January 2020 is one for the books for me. To report on my January PowerSheets goals is just scratching the surface to tell you all that He grew in me this month—and in our marriage and children and my team. But, I hope the updates below are illuminated with this summary of my pivotal month.

Here are my January PowerSheets goals and what I learned. I can’t wait to hear about your progress, too!

January Monthly Goals:
— Cultivate our calendar for 2020—looking ahead at the whole year to plan what matters. / I made a little progress here but decided to space the planning out more by quarter. You’ll see this reflected in my February goals.
— Break my goals down using the action plan pages and yearly overview in my PowerSheets. / Done!
— Decide on new digital boundaries to try. I want to be away from the internet more—even for good things. There are so many things I want to grow and do in 2020, and I want all the time I can get to do them! I’m not sure what my new boundaries will be, so the goal is to decide on a new rhythm of when to use my phone and other digital items—and for what good purpose. / Done! More here.

January Weekly Goals:
—Sabbath / Yes! More here.
—Play more music in our home to fill our souls with music / From organizing our Spotify playlists to sitting down to our old Craigslist piano with a tattered hymnal, this has been so good.
—Write in my commonplace book. / Done! Progress made.

January Daily Goals:
—Bible reading using this plan / Loving this pace of just a small portion a day. This is giving me time to let it really sink in.
—Run with Him / YES! More here.
—Write the Word each day in the 2020 Fresh Faith Challenge / LOVED it and I’ll be keeping it going in February.
—Interact with my physical Bible / The Fresh Faith Challenge made this easy!

Don’t miss these from January:
Download the free How to Break Down Your Goals Guide
Watch the How to Follow Through On Your Goals live class
Listen in to the February PowerSheets PrepCast
Enjoy my chats with Nancy Ray, Amy Tangerine, and Denise Pass

On to February! I have 2 goals for 2020 (each with 4 mini goals under them) that are focused on growing something that matters to me in the big picture. Each month, I’m breaking my yearly goals down using my PowerSheets®. Here’s what’s on my Tending List for the month ahead!

February Monthly Goals:
— Live into this change
— Plan our summer hiking adventures
— Make our summer homeschool plan
— Get ready for the Flower Show with Grace and my mom (!)
— Pray-pare to move into our new office
— Get outside!
— Celebrate God’s love for us

February Weekly Goals:
— Shabbat
— Do strength training for runners
— Enjoy reading (books listed here)
— Listen to the Bema Podcast (Ari is leading a discussion group about this podcast, so I’m dipping my toe in, although much of it flies over my head) and the Bible Project Podcast (the Sabbath series is so good!).
— Make music in our home

February Daily Goals:
— Bible reading. I’m going through this plan with friends each morning.
— Run with Him using the Peloton app and my old Craigslist elliptical now in the colder months. The kids play Legos while I “run!” A few tips: I listen to my own music sometimes and watch their feet in the Tread classes pacing. You can filter out classes where the music has explicit lyrics. I do NOT love all of the classes or instruction (some of the teachers are too self-help-y for me). I do, however, love taking Matt Wilpers’ classes. He is an excellent technical trainer—takes me back to my personal training days. My form and focus are improving with his coaching!
Write the Word each day
— Interact with my physical Bible (this is the one I’m using each night)

Want to do your February pages with me guiding you? Introducing the PowerSheets PrepCast! Enjoy!





Your turn! Do you have goals for February? Did you make progress on something from January? I’d love to celebrate with you! (Even the tiniest steps forward are worth celebrating!)

Don’t have your 2020 PowerSheets yet? The Six-Month Undated PowerSheets are here!

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You’re feeling it. The end of the year, with all of its bells and whistles, is coming at you like a freight train. Christmas music has been playing for months, and if you haven’t already purchased ALL of your gifts, you feel behind.

Do you want to take a break from the hustle and bustle? And refocus on what really matters?

Me, too — and today’s episode has some really good news for you!

LISTEN NOW!

In this episode:
— Does being “intentional” conjure up images of Pinterest, crafts, and hours and hours spent with loved ones? While those things aren’t bad, we start today by talking about how they aren’t a requirement for living with the big picture in mind.
— I tell you about another one of my orchids, its untimely demise, and the message my daughter delivered to me when I really needed it. Once again, I was reminded that His plans are always better than mine.
— Are you in the middle of that right now? Just wanting to get all the things done? Or are you feeling like a failure, having not done the things you had hoped to do this year? We talk about how maybe God wants to grow something different in you. He is there in the unexpected!
— I ask you to think about where you were on January 1, 2019 (and I tell you what I would tell my January 1st self, if I could go back and talk to her!). We also hear from some other listeners about what they would tell their January selves!
— Then, we looked ahead to our January 1, 2020 selves and wrote a little letter to that gal. What would it take for you to look back then and know you cultivated what matters now?
— I gave you a reminder that we get to choose and there’s still time. We can’t do it all and do it all well, but we can opt out of the crazy! As a reminder of our opportunities to choose and the importance of gratitude, we took a little break out in the garden.
— So, where do we start with turning our hearts around, and in the process, turning the rest of our years around? I start with prayer, and I finish the episode by praying for all of us.

Interested in some of the things I mentioned throughout this episode? Here you go!

— Listen in to episode 1 for the story of the infamous orchid — the one that first taught me the power of little by little progress!
— Curious about the flood in our house? Here’s the backstory!
— I shared Psalm 37:3-5.
— Get your 2020 PowerSheets goal planner today! Then, join us for PowerSheets Prep Week starting December 9th. Together, we’ll uncover what really matters and set goals to help live it out!

LOVE THE PODCAST? SHARE IT! Text, email, carrier pigeon—share this episode with friends however you like! This episode is really special, so I hope you’ll share it with someone you love! Feel free to grab one of these graphics to post about it, too!

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I’D LOVE TO MEET YOU! Come say hi on Instagram! I love sharing my life with you!

SUBSCRIBE NOW to the Cultivate Your Life podcast on iTunes so you won’t miss an episode. If you love the podcast, please leave a quick review on iTunes—it helps other women find this free encouragement! Just click here to review, select “Ratings and Reviews” and “Write a Review” and let me know what your favorite part of the podcast is. I’ll be featuring some of your reviews in a future episode!

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The leaves are changing. The air is turning crisp. And my focus has turned to preparing well for the new year while finishing 2019 with an exclamation point (turning 40 on December 27th)!

I love this season and I also know it takes a little extra strategy to be intentional. November is a month we get to choose one of two paths: the path of crazy or the path of peace. One of the best ways to do that?

Welcome to NO-vember!

When we say no to one thing, we are saying yes to something better.
This is your month to say yes to what matters in the big picture.
This is your month to say NO—even when it’s hard—to the non-essentials. We only get this one life; let’s live it on purpose.

Here’s a quick look back at my October PowerSheets goals and what I learned this month. I can’t wait to hear about your goals, too!

October Monthly Goals:
—Ask God to prioritize my days / Yes, I really needed this focus and reminder on my Tending List. This is one of the many examples of how visibility creates accountability—and spurs us on to action. In the overwhelming moments, I stopped and asked Him what I should do next. I keep my PowerSheets open on my desk during the week and out on the kitchen counter on the weekends so I remember what matters. This helps me say YES intentionally instead of in a reactionary way.
—Do what’s most important in the big picture / I made big progress here. This was a month of looking at the big picture—of what will be important at the end of our days—and trying to make changes now accordingly. I did this through conversations with friends, prayer, and talking about what’s important in the big picture with my kids. I love showing them how to begin thinking this way!
—Delight in the Lord / I studied the word “delight” in the Bible and really needed this, too. My focal verse has been Psalm 37:4. Just breeze through some of the verses on delight in the Bible. So good!
—Hire a full-time Admin and Ministry Assistant / Done, praise the Lord! We had SO many wonderful applicants and I wish I could have hired you all! This lovely young lady starts in a couple of weeks and I’m very grateful.
—Put our home back together anew (next week all of the floors downstairs are being torn out and replaced from the flooding, so I’m using this as an opportunity to get rid of things and make our spaces more meaningful with less) / YES!! Double yes! I worked so hard on this! I think I got almost 20K steps the day we moved out of the office house that we sold and simultaneously moved back into our house after the floor renovations were finally done. I was so tired and so grateful! One huge benefit of all of this happening was having to take all of our furniture and basically everything out of our house. We donated a lot and put things back in much better places!

October Weekly Goals:
—Sabbath. / Yes, we got back to lighting the Shabbat candles on Friday and the Havdalah candle on Saturday and it has been so sweet for our whole family. I love this practice we’ve cultivated this year!
—Be there / Yes! I’ve taking Grace to jump rope practice and using intentional forethought to be sure I’m there for the things that matter to them—even in the seemingly small moments.

October Daily Goals: / Progress on all of them below!
—Bible reading each morning / Yes, I’m reading through the Old Testament with a few friends this year and we are in Jeremiah. Not the easiest reading, but just when I think I can’t read any more of God’s anger, His GRACE and MERCY flood right in. Woosh! I’ve felt all the emotions in this reading and it has been so good for my soul. I’m already excited to dig into a slow read of the New Testament in 2020!
—Run! / Yes! This has been something I’ve worked on all year off and on. My knees have, praise the Lord, held out so far. Grateful for this!
—Re-creation with the kids / Yes! From hiking to jumping in leaves and the State Fair, we’ve made memories.
—Pray over our children. / Yes, before bed, I pray over them out loud.

Don’t miss these from October:
The Podcast is back! I had such a fun time chatting about the history of PowerSheets and a little promise I made to myself that’s been shared millions of times on the internet.
— You are so excited about the 2020 PowerSheets Collection—it has blown us away! You had the very best ideas for new products and we made them happen for you!
— Did you see Ari’s rap? We had so much fun making this video for you to celebrate PowerSheets Launch week!
—Take a peek at my favorite new products from the 2020 Collection. It was hard to choose just 5 out of the 15—I’ll be using them all!

On to NO-vember! What are your goals for November? I’d love to hear below! I’m keeping it simple and focusing on saying NO to the things that don’t matter so I can say YES to the things that do.

November Monthly Goals:
—Cultivate my 2020 calendar (Here’s how you can do the same!)
—Pray over 2020 company and personal goals
—Make a meaningful gift list
—Celebrate Gracie turning 8!
—Write the 2020 Goal Setting Series

November Weekly Goals:
—Sabbath rest

November Daily Goals:
—Bible reading
—Run!

Your turn! Do you have goals for November? Comment below and I’ll pick one of you to send a special surprise box of goodies to from the Cultivate What Matters Shop! I love sending real mail, and I love hearing your thoughts! 

P.S.  Have you heard the news?! The 2020 One-Year PowerSheets are SOLD OUT for the year! The good news? You can still get the 2020 Six-Month Undated PowerSheets Intentional Goal Planner and get started at any time of the year!

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Have you ever gone through the motions in life? Feeling frustrated, like you want to do things differently, you want your life to change, and yet you keep doing the same things over and over again? I’ve been there.

Today, we’re going behind the scenes of the creation of the PowerSheets® goal planner, and we’re going to get you unstuck along the way.

LISTEN NOW!

In this episode:
— I tell you about a lightbulb moment—the spark that brought PowerSheets into the world—and what inspired the original Tending List. (I scratched out the first version on a piece of scrap paper!)
— I tell you how I decide, of all the things on my plate, what is actually worth spending time on, and what isn’t.
— We talk about the first sets of PowerSheets—loose-leaf sheets printed at a local printer and sold on Big Cartel. (Does that even exist anymore?!)
— I tell you what I do when I feel overwhelmed and under-qualified, and why sitting in that tension can be a huge blessing.
— Let’s talk about the evolution of PowerSheets over the years! We talk binders, soft covers, hard covers, black and white, and COLOR, and why we made each of those changes! Our office motto is make it better, and we try to live it out every day.
— I love sharing the story of PowerSheets, but what I really love is sharing what you’ve done with them. I tell you the story of 2016—it was a really hard year—and how my PowerSheets helped me through. Help other women to not give up in the middle of the mess were the words I wrote in my PowerSheets after many months of turmoil.
— I tell you about friends just like you who’ve made things happen with their PowerSheets, and what they all have in common: they didn’t give up at the first sign of imperfection. They believed in little-by-little progress. They kept what matters in front of them (their Tending Lists!). They committed to the long-haul. And, they made it FUN! That kind of success lasts, and those are the results you get with your PowerSheets!
— I walk you through every step in the process of getting PowerSheets from an idea into your hands.
— Finally, I talk about why I do this work… plus, how I described my job to a bunch of three-year-olds 🙂

Interested in some of the things I mentioned throughout this episode? Here you go!

— Want to read the history of PowerSheets? Here’s a Cultivate blog post for you, complete with photos of different versions over the years!
— Listen to my interview with Amy Porterfield, focusing on production.
— Here’s the story about changing the name of our shop from Lara Casey Media to Cultivate What Matters.
— And here’s the story of that hard season, when I wanted to quit my business.
— Our last episode focused on the story of the “you know all those things” quote—listen here! Here’s another episode we mention often: No. 8, How to Number Your Days.
— Curious about how our goal-setting process is different? Start with our 7 best goal-setting hacks!
— If you haven’t yet, you must watch Ari’s latest rap (!): 2020, the year of clear vision 🙂
— And now for the good stuff—2020 PowerSheets are on sale NOW! See the four covers, explore the new features, and get your set today! Then, make plans to join us for Prep Week beginning December 9th!

LOVE THE PODCAST? SHARE IT! Text, email, carrier pigeon—share this episode with friends however you like! This episode is really special, so I hope you’ll share it with someone you love! Feel free to grab one of these graphics to post about it, too!

WANT A TEXT WHEN A NEW EPISODE GOES LIVE? Enter your email address below, and I’ll send you a note when a new episode is up!

I’D LOVE TO MEET YOU! Come say hi on Instagram! I love sharing my life with you!

SUBSCRIBE NOW to the Cultivate Your Life podcast on iTunes so you won’t miss an episode. If you love the podcast, please leave a quick review on iTunes—it helps other women find this free encouragement! Just click here to review, select “Ratings and Reviews” and “Write a Review” and let me know what your favorite part of the podcast is. I’ll be featuring some of your reviews in a future episode!

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