Dec 3, 2018

November Progress + December PowerSheets Goals

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So, it’s December.

How are you feeling?

Maybe the last 11 months have been good or maybe they’ve been hard. Maybe it’s been crazy, challenging, or all of these mixed together.

Maybe you’re feeling hesitant about setting goals for the year ahead.

What if 2019 is hard like this year?
What if you don’t follow-through on your goals again?
It feels overwhelming to think about 2019—you’re still trying to deal with 2018!

Whatever you’re feeling, you’re right where you need to be.

Have you heard of the Chinese bamboo tree? Give this a watch…

There’s somewhere you want to be. And maybe you’re not there yet.

The space between here and there feels, well, big. And the thought of having to wait or work to get there feels uncomfortable. You aren’t sure if it’s even possible. I mean, you can’t see or feel anything growing above the surface… is anything happening in that soil??

Our friend the Chinese bamboo is trying to tell us something! What if all the things you experienced this year—good and challenging—have been preparing you for good things ahead?

They are and I’m excited for you!

This month, you’re going to bridge the gap between where you are now and where you want to be—thinking big picture and taking small steps.

PowerSheets Prep Week kicks off today to get you started! You’re going to feel prepared and ready for the new year—and you’re going to LOVE taking those small steps. I’m excited to help you plant the right seeds for the season you’re in, and watch you grow like crazy when the time is right!

Before we dig into December, here’s a look back at my November PowerSheets progress. Looking back helps our brains move forward well—learning from the past and gaining clarity for a new month ahead!

November Monthly Goals:

— God + goals – study it, live it, give it. / Yes, progress here. More to come in the podcast that launches soon!
— Retreat to pray. In order to do anything well this month, I know it will take time in prayer to listen. He turns worries into worship! / This came in small spurts. (I’m not alone hardly at all during the week between work and kids!) I had a couple solo car rides that I turned into prayer drives 🙂
— Prayer-led podcast recording. I lost my voice for a good part of October, but I’m feeling better now and ready to record. The podcast will launch in December! / God always knows the best timing. I feel more ready now than I did before. Embracing progress, not perfection, with this podcast!

My gratitude page from my PowerSheets this month!

Weekly Goals:

— Make decisions from my identity. For example, I want to be a woman who has a life-giving home and a flourishing homeschool. So, what kind of decisions would I make as a person who wants those things? It’s a simple mind shift that has changed several of my decisions this week. / Yes! Progress!
— Gentleness and wonder with the kids. This includes a flourishing homeschool and intentionally planning simple experiences (like crunching in the fall leaves!) and holiday celebrations that leave them in awe of Him. I don’t have to manufacture or plan anything elaborate. I simply lead them to where they might experience wonder and let go! / We enjoyed hot chocolate with marshmallows on the front steps together, decorating our crepe myrtle and weeping cherry tree outside with solar lights, and listening to many wonderful classic holiday songs. It has been fun!

Daily Goals:

— Chronological Bible. I’m continuing my number one goal with this daily Bible reading using the Blue Letter Bible Chronological reading plan on YouVersion. / I’m one month away from finishing this! Hooray! Praising Him! Now I’m starting to pray about what reading plan to do for 2019…
— Workout + worship. Now that the weather is turning colder, we have not been able to walk as much outside in the mornings. It’s tricky sometimes to workout at home with three kiddos, but when I turn it into a praise party, we all get into it! / I updated my workout playlist and have loved dancing to worship music in the mornings.

I did my December PowerSheets while Ari and Gracie did the new Floret puzzle that I love so much!

Now to December!

December Monthly Goals:

— Finish the Bible. – One more month of my Blue Letter Bible Chronological reading plan! This was my number 1 goal for 2018. Want to hear something inspiring? I’ve been doing this reading plan with a few friends this year and one of them told us she got over 70 days behind at one point. She didn’t let that stop her, though, and she didn’t jump ship when she got behind. Little by little, she did an extra day of reading here and there. She caught up a few days ago, and I’m so inspired by her progress! That’s embracing the power of little by little right there!
— Remember and mark God’s faithfulness this year. – In starting my 2019 PowerSheets with you this week, I’m really excited to look back and name the things He brought us through. The hard things made life more fruitful, and naming them builds confidence that He can keep giving us His strength where we are weak!
— Pray-pare for 2019 and set goals. – As I’m thinking about the year ahead, here’s what I’m asking: Lord, please give me Your wisdom. Help me to be diligently in Your Word so I can know Your ways over my own. Help me go where you’re going. God, please make your goals for me crystal clear and help me to be obedient when you lay them before me. I’m willing, Lord, and I’m so grateful for your grace and strength! In Jesus’ name. Amen.
— Launch the Podcast. – I’ve had some fear about this, but when I think of how it could potentially help even one woman, I get all sorts of motivated to make a mess and get to recording!
— Complete the 2019 Goal Setting Series. – I haven’t counted what year we’re on, but I think this will be the eighth time we’ve been doing this annual goal setting party together. It is SO energizing each year and I can’t wait to hear your answers as we go through each part. Mark your calendars for the series kick-off on December 18th!
— Prepare for our 31 Days of Writing the Word Challenge. – Want to start your year with clear faith and peace that you’re on the right path? Writing scripture—getting directly into the Word of God with no fluff—will do it! January 1 through 31, I’m going to be walking you through how to get into the Bible, day by day. This will be so simple and impactful – just 5 minutes a day could change your life. More details to come, but grab any volume of Write the Word journal or even scrap paper and a pencil to join us. We’re going to have some fun!
— Go on a birthday / end-of-year date with Ari. – Both of our birthdays are in December, and since we didn’t have a Southern Weddings launch party this year, we decided we need one fancy date. I’m not sure where yet, but even if we get dressed up and go through the Chick-fil-a drive-through, I’d be happy as a clam! I just want a night to celebrate the Lord’s faithfulness with Ari and remember all the good that came from challenges this year.

Cookie decorating at our Team Summit last week!

December Weekly Goals:

— Deep Sabbath. – I keep thinking about the key figures in the Bible and how they worked hard. They didn’t mess around! But, they did take a deep Sabbath rest each week. I generally haven’t worked on weekends more than once or twice a year at most, but for me, this is more of a mental shift. Even if I’m not doing my weekday work, I can easily fill a day with errands and projects. But, the last two Saturdays we have gone nowhere and it has been so good for all of us. We’ve enjoyed what we have, right where we are, and I think I need more of that to be fueled well for what I’ll be doing during the weeks ahead. It’s a day of complete surrender and that’s a gift.
— 6 days of effective hard work. – As mentioned above, December is my hardest work month by choice. This is my month to sacrifice more than normal for the good of others, and I count that a joy. Lord, please use me and refresh me in Your Spirit, day by day, as only You can.
— Launch my weekly newsletter list. – Something that became clear at our Team Summit last week is that we need to be pen pals—by email! Sign up here for my new weekly (or whenever there’s a new blog post here, a new podcast episode, or something fun just for you) email buddies list! These emails will be like cake: several different ingredients mixed together into one sweet treat in your inbox at just the right time.

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December Daily Goals:

— Let the Light in. – I’m finishing the Blue Letter Bible Chronological reading plan on YouVersion this month!
— Do neck exercises. – After six months of pain, I got an MRI. Not the best results, so I’m in physical therapy and doing all I can to get a certain ornery disk back in place!
— Pray over our children. – I say these words from my friend Sally’s recent book to them every night: You are loved. You are good. You are God’s. I pray for them. But, I want to make this a lengthier time with each kiddo to help their individual heart and needs.

Gracie turned 7 in November! And helped decorate her birthday cake with my mom : )

Verses I’m loving for December:

I want to be effective. This entire chapter is swirling in my heart and head:

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:5-8 ESV).

We made ornaments from our peach tree! Read the story and see how we did it here!

Your turn! What are your goals for December? What are you cultivating in this new month? 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! Congrats to November’s winner, Maggie!

P.S. Haven’t ordered your PowerSheets yet? Now is the time! (The Multi cover is going fast!)

keep reading


  1. Kayla Jones on December 3, 2018 at 8:23 pm

    I am cultivating rest, it’s been a tough and busy year and I can feel the consequences of that in my body. I want to be able to love my body well and make healthy habits now as I prepare for the New Year!

    • Lara on December 4, 2018 at 11:09 am

      Kayla, I’m glad to hear this and hoping you get a lot of good rest!

  2. Gretchen on December 3, 2018 at 10:30 pm

    Prep staff retreat, book January travel, unpack moving boxes, Powersheets Prep Week

    Go to church, encourage a friend, write the Word

    Eat at least 2 meals per day, Spend 15 minutes cultivating peace in my home (laundry, dishes, hang pics, etc)

    • Lara on December 4, 2018 at 11:09 am

      Gretchen, you can do it!

    • Katherine on December 5, 2018 at 2:07 pm

      Gretchen – I really like your framing “cultivating peace in my home”, I tend to think of these things as chores, but framing them by their outcome of a peaceful home is so much better! Thank you!

  3. Grace on December 3, 2018 at 11:15 pm

    Wow, that video was just what I needed to hear. As I started my 2019 Powersheets today I was feeling like I didn’t really have any idea where I wanted the year to go. No big projects to finish or transitions to make. When I think about 2019 I really just see the daily grind. But that video made me think hard about how I can be purposeful in a year that might look more mundane, and even be excited for it!

    A few things I’m cultivating December:

    Visit friends and former teachers while I’m home from college!
    Prep 2019 Powersheets!
    Write weekly blog posts
    Do devotions daily
    Work on a lot of healthy habits: nutrition, water, sleep

    • Lara on December 11, 2018 at 10:26 am

      I’m so glad, Grace! I’m excited for you!

  4. Katie @ A Place to Dwell on December 4, 2018 at 9:52 am

    Hi, Lara! 🙂

    I LOVE the part of your post above where you talk about wanting to be somewhere, but the space from here to there feeling so big.

    That’s so where I am at with my dreams and desires to find a Godly man and get married. But as I’m ending 2018, I have so much more hope than I usually do. Because I see all the work He’s been doing in me. And I’m ready to keep stepping out in faith, while also trusting Him fully with the outcome. This is exciting and so hopeful for me! 🙂
    My December monthly goals are:
    To experience Advent and enter into the feelings of waiting and longing during this season.
    To love people well.
    To prayerful work on my Powersheets prep for 2019.
    To post goal-setting updates on my newly redesigned blog. 🙂
    Cheering you on this season, Lara! So grateful for you and your Cultivate What Matters team!

  5. Lara on December 4, 2018 at 11:10 am

    Katie, thank you for sharing! We are grateful for your support and I’m thinking of you this month!

  6. Bailey Jean on December 4, 2018 at 1:46 pm

    Ah! So excited for the podcast, Lara! Can’t wait! I just started digging into my 2019 PowerSheets, going slow to prepare well. Love seeing your progress, friend!

    In December my main goals include:
    – Closing our Christmas play well (It’s a Wonderful Life!)
    – Resting well over the break
    – Finish my 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge
    – Prepare well for the coming year
    – Daily: Word, prayer, water, get active, read for fun

    • Lara on December 11, 2018 at 10:28 am

      Thank you, Bailey Jean! Cheering you on—and I can’t wait to hear how the book challenge goes!

  7. Laura at Fairly Southern on December 4, 2018 at 2:26 pm

    My goals this month include conquering some lingering house projects, getting ahead on my blog schedule so that I can truly rest and enjoy my holiday vacation, and getting ahead at work as well (for the same reason)!

  8. Alicen on December 4, 2018 at 2:26 pm

    This has been a full and hard and joyful year. I’m turning to God to help heal where my heart hurts and is bruised and praising Him daily for always walking with me. And preparing my heart to welcome Him more completely this Christmas.

    • Lara on December 11, 2018 at 10:28 am

      Alicen, thank you for sharing. I’m sending hugs!

  9. Trina on December 4, 2018 at 7:00 pm

    Hi Lara, Which one of Sally’s books are you referring to about the words to pray/speak over your children?(You are loved. You are good. You are God’s.) Thank you for all you do for this community! Your team is a light in my life!

    • Lara on December 19, 2018 at 7:19 pm

      It’s called The Lifegiving Parent : )

  10. Allison on December 5, 2018 at 1:55 pm

    Because of various factors throughout the year I’ve let my physical health take a back seat. This month I really want to give my body the attention it needs/deserves.

  11. Sarah Gusky Kemer on December 6, 2018 at 9:03 am

    My biggest December goal is “Find the Joy!” We’re doing our December Kindness Plan and it’s already in full swing. It’s bringing such light to our house, looking for ways to serve and finding ways to give God’s love to others.

    This has been an amazing year. Mid-2017–2018 was a “Grow in Place” year for my family, and we’re bursting forth with eagerness for change now. We’ve grown as much as we can where we are, and I’m really really excited about what 2019 has in store for us.

    • Lara on December 11, 2018 at 10:28 am

      Cheering you on, Sarah!

  12. Brianna on December 6, 2018 at 9:16 am

    As always, I am so encouraged by reading your goals, Lara! Like many others, the Christmas season is incredibly hard for me because of a variety of reasons. That being said, my December goals are simple: to pray and spend time in the Word as much as possible and rest in grace. I want to be able to joyfully celebrate the coming of Emmanuel with my church family and small group, while not getting caught up in the sadness and stress that often accompany this time of year. Also, another goal is my Powersheets prep work, of course! I ordered mine late, but I can’t wait to get them and dive in!

    • Lara on December 11, 2018 at 10:27 am

      Brianna, simple goals are often the very best kind. Thinking of you!

  13. Rebecca Brown on December 6, 2018 at 9:25 am

    I have a 2month old and have gallbladder surgery on the 19th so I am working on getting him on more of a schedule for bedtime and being patient with getting help from others during my couple weeks of recove ry from surgery where I wont be able to lift him- not allowed to lift over 10lbs 🙁

    • Lara on December 11, 2018 at 10:27 am

      Rebecca, I’m praying over you and the sweet baby.

  14. Amanda Langan on December 11, 2018 at 9:58 pm

    I just got engaged!!
    So my focus is to celebrate the holidays, our families, our engagement, and serving the local church family and Christmas eve services. And then plan intentional rest, from the hustle and bustle that my retail job brings.

  15. Carley on December 12, 2018 at 6:46 am

    I’m focusing on continued rest and daily steps to help my body heal from chronic illness. I’m also focusing on the last month or so before I get married an move into a new home and new part of life – specifically on cultivating my relationship with my fiancé and the house that will be our home.

  16. Maggie on December 13, 2018 at 8:41 pm

    Am I the Maggie you mentioned as Novemeber’s winner?!?! If so, thanks a million!!! I’ll be so excited to see this package in the mail!!

    November did go well! Hard things happened, but there was assurance of God’s perfect leading and timing!

    And here is part of what’s tending for December:
    -Trust God – it’s His life, His plan!
    -Finish memorizing the Sermon on the Mount STRONG!
    -Prayerfully seek His will for 2019 goals!
    -Savor the season with thoughtfulness ♥
    -Making my brother’s birthday gift
    -Neighbor/Friend/Family gifts and visits
    -Specific work goals

    Thank you again! Your encouragement and inspiration have been such a gift from God in my life this year! ♥

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