Jun 20, 2018

How One Small Step Forward Can Change Everything

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You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. – Jim Rohn

Wow! Does that hit you like it does me? Every time we talk about this concept at the Making Things Happen Conference, it changes us.

Those five people could be family members, friends, or even people on social media you’ve never met. The people and things we allow into our lives the most have a profound effect on our thoughts—and our future outcomes. This is one of the many reasons I’m grateful to have you, the Cultivate What Matters family, as a collective one of my “five!”

I am passionate about encouraging you, but you encourage me to live out what matters a hundredfold. (Your support last week was a gift!)

You fight alongside me each day to pay attention to what matters—what lasts. You are living this out! I read every comment and message, and I love following your journeys. You inspire me to say no to distractions and keep my eyes focused on truth.

You are encouragers—helping to build women up right where they are. Case in point: how you welcomed our two new team members, Ashlea + Jordan, to the Cultivate family last week!

Get to know each of us—and what we do—here.

You are strong and capable and ready for the second half of the year, even when you feel like you have no idea what you are doing.

And you don’t mess around when it comes to taking action on goals that matter to you!

This month, you have taken first steps on mid-year goals and WOW! What a month this has been! I have loved doing live goal coaching with you, seeing so many lightbulbs go off as you continue to take those first steps.

Our Goal-Getters board and walls (!) are filled with YOUR names. And we’re still going—take a step forward on a goal that matters to you and we will put your name on the board! We want to cheer you on because little-by-little progress is worth celebrating. When one woman steps forward on something that matters to her, do you know what happens? It creates a ripple effect. You are world changers, friends!

I took my own steps forward this month too—specifically on two of my yearly goals that are related:

  1. Love the things above, not the things of the world: cultivating contentment in our children, clearing out the stuff and information overload, and generous and wise stewardship of what we’ve been entrusted with.
  2. Cultivate the fruit of the Spirit in motherhood: growing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control in their hearts by our family seeking after God Himself above everything else.

To move forward on these goals, I wanted to start “morning time” in our family: gathering the kids together at the table each morning to grow our faith and family bond.

I’ve been wanting to do this all year, but couldn’t figure out how to do it. There were a few logistical roadblocks. First, we didn’t have a table where everyone could sit together, spread out, and make a mess. We had the dining room table, but the chairs were not exactly kid-and-craft-friendly (ha!). When Ari and I moved into our house seven years ago, before we had kids, we bought white upholstered dining chairs. Not ideal for kiddos! We also didn’t have a time that seemed to work. And how could I keep all three kids’ attention for more than a few seconds together?

For months, I did nothing. I thought about it, but I couldn’t figure out how to move forward and make it work long-term. I wanted to make morning time a regular rhythm in our house, but these small logistical things seemed to stand in my way (which feels silly now looking back!). I did nothing—until I saw all of YOU making leaps forward on your goals this month, breaking through obstacles big and small.

You lit a fire under me!

I decided that, since we used our dining room table maybe once a month at most, this would be the place. Kids crafts and books would make a welcome centerpiece! : )

My first action step: I went to find a few boxes that I could use to fill with morning time supplies. I made a box for each kiddo and filled each with Write the Word for Kids journals, craft supplies, and a few books.

I made myself a box, too. Inside: my Write the Word journal, Bible, pens, and some homeschool books.

And… I bought these wipable indestructible chairs to replace the not-so-kid-friendly upholstered ones from IKEA that were falling apart anyway. Bonus: they came fully assembled.

Up next: It was time to give this morning time thing a try for the first time.

Starting new things for the first time can be tricky, right? Whether it’s starting a new routine in your family or starting a magazine, fear can try to stop us at the starting line.

What if it doesn’t work?

What if this fails?

How do you move forward on goals that matter to you when you feel fear?

First things first (and this is the key that most people miss!): break your goal down into itsy-bitsy tiny steps—the smaller, the more likely you are to DO them. Once you break your goal down, you may find that you can’t help but take action—fear has less of a hold on you because smaller steps aren’t as daunting. (For more on breaking goals down into mini goals, read here.)

In the big and small things, you get to choose: fear or faith.

Breaking it down helps you move from fear to I’m doing this!

I gathered all the kiddos at the table with some snacks (a tip I learned from my friend, Sally Clarkson—snacks make new things more appealing!), I prayed for us, and I read them a book while they colored.

That was it.

It lasted for 15 minutes and it. was. awesome.

This may seem so simple, but that’s exactly the point. Our first morning time at the table together, with the sun peeking in, was simple and beautiful and life-giving for all of us. One day led to two, two led to a week, and now we’re three weeks in. This daily rhythm has changed our family!

You know all those things you’ve always wanted to do?

Big or small, you should go DO them.

Starting morning time was important to me because I see how it will have a ripple effect in our family—and hopefully their own families—for years to come. Learning has happened at the table. Conversation has happened here. Togetherness has happened here. And it didn’t take any grand planning. Just a few intentional steps forward.

Cultivating what matters means doing small things that add up to the big things.

Thinking big picture, and taking small intentional steps forward.

I don’t have an agenda each time I sit down with them; I do what is best for that day and each of thier nurturing needs at that moment. Some mornings we read, some mornings we paint, some mornings we color, and on homeschool days, the other kiddos do whatever they like at the table while Grace and I work through reading, handwriting, and other activities. Sometimes the younger two end up playing legos on the floor, and sometimes we have music. We just go with it!

There are often interruptions and tantrums and challenges, too, but the “imperfections” are part of the blessing of this time. Part of the learning is working through big emotions and “I wanted the yellow crayon!” moments together. : )

This time (usually from 7:30-8-ish before I start work) lasts anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. How long we do it doesn’t matter as much as doing it with the right heart: to seek Him and delight in the creative gifts God has given each of us.

And it all began with one small step forward: I went to find boxes.

Sometimes, the hardest part of starting something is proverbially “putting on your shoes,” right? Once you take the first step, the momentum grows.

Our first day above—I was still waiting on the chairs to arrive, but we dove in anyway! 

Your turn! What one step forward have you taken—or plan to take—on a goal that matters to you? Leave a comment here with your one step and I’ll add your name to our office Goal Getters Board!

I hope my story encourages you to dig in and take the first step. You never know how that one step forward might change everything!

Up next, I’ll be sharing more practical ways I’ve taken action on these goals: 8 Ways to Infuse Scripture into Your Home. Look for that on July 5th!

keep reading


  1. Jennifer on June 20, 2018 at 4:27 pm

    Due to a health thing, I need to tighten up my budget to deal with that and to also reach other goals. I’ve made peace with changing my spending habits and created some solid steps to reflect that.

  2. LeeAnne on June 20, 2018 at 5:09 pm

    I signed up for a vegan based soups and smoothies delivery service to get more fruits and vegetables into my body.

    • Lara on June 20, 2018 at 5:10 pm

      I love that, LeeAnn! What a great step forward. I’m adding you to our Goal Getters board!!

  3. Hillary Farley on June 20, 2018 at 6:24 pm

    Sally Clarkson is my spirit animal!!! I got her book on your recommendation and WOAH she has just blown my mind. It’s a huge long story maybe we could chat about over tea sometime 😄

    • Lara on June 21, 2018 at 9:36 am

      Yes!! She is a treasure! I’m so glad you love her book as much as I do!

  4. Tracy Hyde on June 20, 2018 at 7:44 pm

    I’ve been wanting to use our dining room more as well – for meals as a family, coffee with friends etc – but damaging the wood stresses me out. Today, I just happened to walk by a glass cutting shop in our little town, and he said they could absolutely make a protective top for the table. Tomorrow, I’m going to send him the dimensions of the table, so that I can get a quote and start saving, if necessary. I refuse to have a table that I’m too stressed out to use!!

    • Lara on June 21, 2018 at 9:37 am

      LOVE that! There are also plastic tabletop cuttings you can get on Amazon (the kind people often use for desks). I’m considering one for our table as well!

  5. Anita on June 20, 2018 at 8:07 pm

    I am using this month to work through the Powersheets after having read and worked through Cultivate. Starting in the meantime back on track with eating healthy for me. I am thankful for God’s perfect timing of finding your book and powersheets to speak bravery and focus reminders to me. Thank you for listening and being obedient to your call. It is urging others on to theirs as well.

    • Lara on June 21, 2018 at 9:38 am

      Anita, this means to much and I am SO excited for you!!!

  6. Anita on June 20, 2018 at 8:08 pm

    Oops realized last name was on my comment. If you can please pull it off. Thanks. If not oh well.

    • Lara on June 21, 2018 at 9:37 am

      You got it! All set! : )

  7. Christina on June 20, 2018 at 8:42 pm

    For me I want to relax more and be creative when I get home for work. That’s my small step. I want to have more relaxing fun peaceful household. I wAnt my children to have a calming environment before school starts again in September

    • Lara on June 21, 2018 at 9:39 am

      I love that, Christina! I encourage you to make a specific list for yourself, if you haven’t already, of the detailed ways you could relax and be more creative after work. Identify next steps there and I think you’ll be all set! SO excited for you!

  8. Alicia Rohan on June 20, 2018 at 9:24 pm

    I love this! It spoke so much to my heart. I am currently in the throws of figuring out work / life balance with a 3 year old and a 1 year old. I want to be intentional in their lives and focus on this time with them because I know how fast it will go and in a blink of an eye they will be in elementary school. But I have had such a hard time trying to figure out working schedule with being home. But my husband and I just put a plan together and are going to try something new with our schedules. Its definitely one step forward and if it doesn’t work we will take another step to try something new. Its something we both feel so strong about so we are going to figure it out together. 🙂

    • Lara on June 21, 2018 at 9:40 am

      So encouraged by you, my friend! Yes! I try lots of things and see what works—and it if doesn’t work, I redirect and try something else! : )

  9. Theresa on June 20, 2018 at 9:51 pm

    I have started (only missed 2 days in 3 weeks!) starting each day with writing down what I’m grateful for in my life – pen to paper – and it’s been amazing how much that has caused a shift to be heart focused while also mind focused.

    • Lara on June 21, 2018 at 9:41 am

      That is so powerful, Theresa!! Wow, what a great reminder of the power of expressing thanks!

  10. Aubrey Atkinson on June 20, 2018 at 10:49 pm

    So, you know when you say “never” to this or that, but God has other plans? Yeah. I’m learning that literally every time I say I’m “never” doing this or that, that’s usually exactly where I end up. It’s become quite humorous actually. In regards to that, I’ve felt a nudge for some time to make a leap i with my health/wellness journey, but I always said I’d “never” go this route. Turns out- I think it’s where I’m called to be. Fear is definitely still holding me back (along with an injury… because my timing impeccable). But I know God has a plan and a purpose. I just have to keep trusting, let go of fear and judgement, and jump in with all I’ve got. Sounds so much easier written out than when it comes time to actually move!

    • Lara on June 21, 2018 at 9:42 am

      Aubrey, I am laughing out loud reading your comment because I know EXACTLY what you mean!! “Want to make God laugh? Tell Him your plans!” So encouraged by you!

  11. Kripa on June 20, 2018 at 11:05 pm

    I wrote out a plan for how I would practice piano and singing and for how long! 🙂

    • Lara on June 21, 2018 at 9:42 am

      That is awesome, Kripa! Love that so much!!

  12. Jennifer on June 20, 2018 at 11:31 pm

    I’ve been wanting to go to church. I finally talked to hubby about it and we did some research online to find nearby churches to visit. I was very surprised be was interested to go with me. I can’t wait to make our first visit!

    • Lara on June 21, 2018 at 9:45 am

      Jennifer, this is the BEST! I know those steps can be scary and full of emotions, but what a life-giving thing to surround yourself with other people who want to help each other live for God. I will pray for you guys on this journey. Getting my husband to come to church with me the first (and fifth and fiftieth) time was hard. I felt so much fear. But, God kept nudging me along! I am praying the same for you two. : )

  13. Sharon on June 21, 2018 at 12:37 am

    I left a job that was mentally and verbally abusive and am starting a business with my hubby! Got is moving big time in this and while I still need a job, I have a 2nd interview this Friday and have already told them about our business and how I want to grow it! Transparency builds trust for all!!

    • Lara on June 21, 2018 at 9:46 am

      Oh, Sharon, I am so sorry to hear you had that experience! And what a blessing to have this new chapter!

  14. Jodie on June 21, 2018 at 3:13 am

    I took out our couple’s devotional and left it out on our bed as my first action step. My husband and I have been so busy but it is time to continue intentionally building a strong foundation for our marriage during our first year again.

    • Lara on June 21, 2018 at 9:48 am

      Yessssss, Jodie! That is such a great example for all of us of a small and realistic action step. I am excited for how that will lead to a next step and a next—and to fruitful faith along the way for you both in this first year of marriage!

  15. Holly on June 21, 2018 at 10:47 am

    I am moving forward on one of my yearly goals- health and well being. Last week I attended a Bold in the Soull meet up and am now connected to a group of ladies who are doing fitness God’s way. Truly a blessing, and I am getting in shape inside and out.

  16. Katharine on June 21, 2018 at 1:50 pm

    This year I really want to focus on cultivating life-giving relationships with my family. We homeschool and have an urban farm which keeps us pretty busy. We do plenty of work together, but sometimes we forget it’s okay to have fun together. So this month, I set a goal to play a game with my family every day. Two -thirds into the month and it has been magical. I truly love my family, but I also really like them. It’s been a good reminder.

  17. Tamara on June 21, 2018 at 4:17 pm

    Lara! Thank you so much for this. 💛 I applied for a new job today. I almost was too scared to take the leap but then remembered all I’ve learned from you and your team. So I prayed instead and just did it. Ich have no idea what will come out of this, but I’m so grateful for your encouragement. Glad you get top enjoy morning time now! You are a blessing to your kids for sure! 🙌🏼

  18. Sara on June 21, 2018 at 4:32 pm

    I am feeling really called to clear the clutter. I had a goal to practice good stewardship with an organized home and less stuff. So far, that hasn’t happened much and the clutter is starting to really overwhelm me. My family has entered an unexpected season and I feel like clearing the clutter and creating good organizational systems within our home will help long term with our ‘new normal’ as I’ve taken to calling it. My mom is coming in town today so, with her help with my 18 month old, I plan to get started. First step: file all papers and need to keep items and shred the rest! I may even get around to going through some old boxes and organizing my craft cabinet. 🙂

  19. Rebekah Freshour on June 23, 2018 at 11:01 pm

    God impressed it on my heart a very long time ago to start a women’s home bible study/prayer group which is totally out of my comfort zone. I finally decided that I would do the planning & preparation & leave the rest in God’s hands & now here we are the very 1st meeting is June 25th! I can’t wait to see what God does in the women’s lives I’ve invited but also in my own life. Thank You Father for giving me the strength & courage to do this, the enemy has tried everything to get me to quit & give up but I put my faith in You alone Father, Thy will be done.

  20. Amy on June 30, 2018 at 9:15 am

    My sister and I are unexpectedly leaving our parents’ home and moving back to the States due to widespread violence and instability in the country where my parents serve as missionaries. The sudden change in our circumstances has made most of my yearly goals irrelevant; instead of finishing my last year of online university from home, I need to work and study and keep house for the first time and build a new life—with 2 weeks’ notice! (Can anyone say “overwhelming!”?!) My word for the year is “focus”, so I’m going to focus on just ONE goal this summer: writing a book. 10 days from now, when I’m on a plane leaving home, I’m going to draw up a rough outline (after I finish crying). The rest of the year feels big and intimidating right now, but one outline on a plane is doable.

  21. Tessa on July 2, 2018 at 1:58 am

    I have been working through my first set of power sheets to kick off this month.
    The scripture ‘physical training has some value but Godliness has value for all things’ is increasingly meaningful to me, so I am trying to find a gap in my schedule to “work out & worship” each day.

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