Jun 30, 2023

July Goals

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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.

I took my loves on a date last week. Each person was tasked with thinking of something for the family to celebrate at dinner—anything big or small they are grateful for. Mine: this family loving me through the last year of change and God’s faithfulness in it all. I am grateful!

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!

A family tradition—passed down through many generations—continued in my kitchen this week! Blueberry jam from local berries, fresh lemons, and a lot of love and memories. I think of my mom, grandma Bunny, and great grandmother Irene every time I hear the pop of the Ball jar lids. I made blueberry in honor of Dad – his favorite.

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.

July Goals:
– 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!

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  1. Barbara LaBrier on June 30, 2023 at 2:35 pm

    Always appreciate your writing and your insights. Thank you!!!

  2. Casey on June 30, 2023 at 3:31 pm

    Lara, such a joy to hear what you’ve been up to in your life! I loved getting to read this and share in this with you. I am SO excited and refreshed for you with all the past year has held yet also what this new hope and new exhale holds ahead. For July, I’m also planning a big trip to Europe — so excited about it! I’m also tending to some new learning goals and wellness goals this month ahead. July looks most like reaping the hard work I’ve sown thus far in the year, and I’m going to soak it all up and enjoy it! Miss you. XOXO.

  3. Crystal on June 30, 2023 at 6:52 pm

    I loved reading your update. I wish so much I could come over and sit on your porch with you. We feel strongly God is leading us in some big changes this year and it has me a bit paralyzed. I’m excited but yet dreading all the questions that I know will come from people that might not understand.

    Your post was such an encouragement to me.

    Thank you!!!

  4. Emma on July 1, 2023 at 7:13 am

    This is so encouraging to me. Thank you for sharing. I’m at the start of my journey of walking through my father’s cancer and some days everything feels so bleak. It’s so good to see someone on the other side!

    P.S. my son loves Gracies garden and is always begging to write Josh a letter and send him some tomato seeds. I’m haven’t quite explained the customs issue from New Zealand to USA😆

  5. Kimberly on July 1, 2023 at 6:14 pm

    You are always so inspiring sharing your heart and I just need you to know that the “change me over time and surround me with wonderful people” hit home. YOU remain one of the wonderful people my own business has afforded me in the last nine months and I remain so thankful for your support and encouragement last October. I cannot wait to see more of your paintings (something Memorialight and loss has encouraged me to do as well) AND hear about your hospice journey. I cannot wait for you to touch the lives of so many and get to be a real life angel for people you haven’t met yet. I’m so happy for you that you’ve taken time and figured out what feels right, but really just here to say one gigantic “thank you and I think of you so often!” 🤍🤍 -Kimberly

  6. Emily D. on July 3, 2023 at 12:23 pm

    Lara! I love hearing about how things are going in your life. What a season of growth and change you’ve had! I love that you’re going to Iceland–I’m going to Scotland in September and it’s the first time I’ve ever left the USA, so I’m really excited.
    Right now I’m focusing on my health and my house–I want to increase the weight I’m using in my strength training this month and I want to be doing two treadmill workouts a week. In my house I’m overhauling a lot of things, but right now it’s the office/library–we’re putting up new IKEA shelves today!

  7. Shunta Grant on July 3, 2023 at 3:28 pm

    These two things stuck out for me: find a fire in my soul apart from any vocation and find God in it all. Lord Jesus we thank you! So beautiful Lara! As for me, July is social media reset which means me, my company, and tons of others I’m connected to commit to no social media for the month of July. I have a pile of books to read, lots of family trips planned, two weeks of time where I have a reprieve from active daily hands on parenting (yay for grandparent camp) which means time to think, pray, study, and write in much more depth and for extended time each day. I am so looking forward to the richness of the things that matter deeply to me in July–time to be creative, study, time with myself, time with my family and friends. Love you!

  8. Amanda B. on August 16, 2023 at 11:32 am

    Thank you so much for the update, inspiration and book recommendations!!

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