When the scarlet cardinal tells
Her dream to the dragon fly,
And the lazy breeze makes a nest in the trees,
And murmurs a lullaby,
It is July.
– “July” by Susan Hartley Swett
Today, as we turn the page to July, I also turn a page of my life. The end of June marks a year since I followed God’s lead to let go of Cultivate. In that process, and every day since, the Lord has grown me through and through. I am living a paradoxically different life than I was a year ago.
I know what it means to be planted—buried in the dark soil not knowing what will happen next, just that I’m supposed to be there in the dirt. I know what it means to have to trust in faith, not knowing what will grow or how long it will take. I know what it means to grow anew and feel exceedingly uncomfortable in the growth. I know what it means to experience God’s painful pruning—His grace and mercy to make life fruitful. I know what it means to be changed. And it has taken every part of this year.
It has taken me a year to
– release what was
– get quiet and step away from what I knew for 20 years to listen to the Lord afresh
– grieve deeply
– let go of my identity as CEO
– know my true identity as His daughter – deeply loved beyond what I can understand
– allow God to direct my steps, my grief, my view of this second-half journey
– let the waves of sadness come as they did and let them teach me
– see glimmers of what the Lord has for me now and in the future
– learn how to do a whole new life
– know this was good
– find a fire in my soul apart from any vocation
– find God in it all
It has taken me a year to e x h a l e.
I don’t take lightly having a new start in life. Like the parable of the talents, I’ve been given a chance to multiply what’s here—time, talents, joys, small moments, wisdom, seasoning—for something bigger than me. It’s a responsibility I’m taking with a spirit of energetic fun this next season. My focus? Exactly where God began this journey a year ago: to cultivate the hearts of our children. I’ve learned in this year that it starts with me and God first, and everything good grows from there. I’ve been given a chance to refresh others and be made new – or perhaps more like my true self at this new stage of life. Looking back on the last year, I marvel at how much life and I have transformed together. I’m thankful for what’s right now and hopeful for more growth ahead. This is the second half—praise the Lord!
Much like preserving sweet summer harvests, I’ve spent time over the last week collecting photographs and memories from my career with Southern Weddings and Cultivate into a special box. I’ve cried, laughed, and praised the Lord through it all. We preserve the good stuff in jam jars and photo albums, words and stories passed on from generation to generation. I feel exceedingly blessed to have worked alongside the women I worked alongside and to have gotten to do the work I was given to do. Even with all the ups and downs of entrepreneurship, I can confidently say I had a beautiful and blessed career. Not because of products or sales though—because of God’s faithfulness in it all to change me over time and surround me with wonderful people. This journey of sanctification is far from done, but I am grateful to have done so much growing alongside such generous people I treasure.
My July goals were fueled by the Mid-Year Refresh in the PowerSheets (which was, as always, right on time!). I loved every bit of it and completed it saying aloud to myself, “Wow, I love the PowerSheets!” 🙂 The process never fails to give me clarity and clarity makes me want to take action—no need for forced motivation. My goals matter to me and in the big picture and so I want to take action. I’m grateful and ready to tackle what God has given me to do.
– Take starting steps on my Q3 goals!
– Make my “Mom binders” – my version of a commonplace notebook with things I want to teach the kids, specifically at bedtime. I often find poems to read to them, stories, scriptures, or encouragements and I wanted a place to collect them to share. I got this little A5 binder and can’t wait to fill it.
– Honor Dad. August 28th will mark one year since his passing, and I want to mark this moment with meaning. I’m not sure what to do yet but will be praying for a plan.
– Prep for our trip to Iceland.
– Complete my hospice volunteer application. Ever since walking Dad home, I’ve felt the tug to serve others in their final days. I took a year to pray about it and feel even more grateful for this call now. I reached out to our local retirement home and I have a few technical things to do to complete the application. I hope to start in a few weeks.
– Plan the new homeschool year. This is a BIG year in our homeschool journey: Josh is skipping ahead to 3rd grade, Grace begins middle school (!), and this will be Sarah’s first year of what I call Charlotte Mason hybrid-schooling. We’ve tried various special needs programs and school settings for her in the last couple of years, all with various levels of difficulty. With her autism diagnosis, we’ve gained clarity on what will help her thrive: a combination of daily therapy and homeschooling it is! I couldn’t be more excited for her and our family in this new season together. She is pumped!
– Enjoy our house after its renovation. Okay, I have been holding out on you as this has been all-encompassing the last few months—a lot has changed in our house! I will share before, in-progress, and finished photos with you soon!
– In a similar vein, enjoy our lives together after my own renovation. This one-year mark today is important to me. Looking back, I’m amazed at how my life and heart have grown. Good things grow in hard things. Praise the Lord.
– Paint. I sold my first painting several months ago: a very large piece to an architect. It was meaningful to me as my dad always wanted me to be an artist. I plan to – simply for the joy of it and to honor Dad – create several more pieces over the next months.
– My Daily Habits continue to be where I see the most fruit in life. One addition this month is “Read 2 chapters.” I’ve read countless pieces of reading advice over the years, and somehow this stuck—alongside a recent sermon on the Parable of the Talents. One of the most intentional ways I can pour into our children in this new season is to learn, learn, learn, and pass that learning to them through my words and actions. I’ve already started my 2 chapters a day and have loved it! I’ve alternated between chapters of Habits of the Household (the audio, read by the author, is excellent – thank you, Em, for the book rec!) and Sacred Rhythms. I also finally finished the Birds and Bees course and it was fantastic. I’ve already implemented much of what they shared. Highly recommend!
I owe you a big health and house update – coming soon. Till then, your turn! What are you focusing on in July? I’d love to hear!