Dec 9, 2016

LITTLE BY LITTLE / When it takes two years to finish a book

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Well, friends, it has been a long while since I did one of these Little by Little posts, and for good reasons. To cultivate what matters, we often have to let go of one thing to make room for another. I can’t do it all and do it well, but I can choose to focus on what God wants me to do in each season and circumstance. So, I let go of writing any words that weren’t being put in the pages of my book! : )


After two years, many life changes, and starting over completely once (see the story here), my manuscript for Cultivate is done. PRAISE HIM!!!! Y’all know this was quite a journey, but God’s timing is always perfect. I needed to live out this story in order to write the words He wanted me to write. I am grateful for having to start over and for all the imperfect progress along the way! Here’s a little update on the last few weeks, and a peek at my new book cover

Here are ten things to help you cultivate what matters in the week ahead!

1.  Don’t microwave your goals. Most of the world tries to fit 2017 Goal Setting into the few days between Christmas and New Year’s. But, we aren’t going to squish intentional planning into those sometimes-family-filled days. As I mentioned in my last post about the Cultivate Interviews, we’re excited to announce that our first-ever PowerSheets Prep Week is next week! Join us for a week of preparing for 2017 with our best practical tips each day (follow Cultivate What Matters on Instagram), and I’ll be doing a live 2017 PowerSheets webinar on Wednesday. Sign up for free here. If you can’t make it live, do not miss getting the recording to watch later. This will be a quick broadcast packed with all our best PowerSheets prep tips from the last four years! Register here.

2. Cultivate a life-giving home. I had the joy of chatting with Sally Clarkson yesterday about cultivating a life-giving home, how to weather challenging seasons, and so much more. Sally is a wealth of wisdom! Catch the replay for free here, and be sure to join for my live interview with Renee Swope next Thursday at 11am EST too. Register here.

3. Read meaningful (and fun!) words. It can be challenging to find compelling books for Grace’s age (she just turned five a couple weeks ago) that are rooted in Biblical truth, and also fun to read as an adult. Adam Raccoon has become a new family favorite! Highly recommend.

4. Cultivate a year of prayer and hospitality. I’ve got a stack of mail sitting on my desk from this last month of being sick, and locking myself in my office to finish the book. Two things I can’t wait to dig into: Val Marie Paper’s 2017 yearly prayer journal, and the new Welcome Home Guestbook.

5. Know that it’s not too late. It’s not too late to start meaningful holiday traditions with your family this year—it’s only December 9th. We keep it simple around here! We celebrate the holidays that Jesus celebrated, like the feast of Dedication, also known as Hanukkah. It’s an awesome time to remember God’s faithfulness. We also celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmas time. But, we do the tree (or trees!) a little differently than most people.


We have a lot of fruit trees in our garden: two lemon, three orange, and two kumquat. In the winter, it gets too cold for the fruit trees to live inside, so we bring them into our house. There is no room for a traditional fir tree, and Josh and Sarah would end up eating it! So, instead of decorating a big Christmas tree, we decorate two of the smaller fruit trees that spend the winter on the dining room table.


This year, two new things we are loving are Star from Afar and the Archer Advent journal (a Gracie favorite). Let me tell you, I cried when I opened the Star from Afar set that my friend Natalie sent us. She included a dark-skinned angel to represent Sarah’s birthmother watching over us. It is so special. We’ve had so much fun placing the star in different spots, and even Ari took the lead last night and wanted to hide it! It has helped us tell the story of Jesus to Grace. This will definitely become a long-standing Isaacson tradition.

penultimatefullsizerenderFinding the star this morning!

What are your holiday traditions? Does the idea of starting new traditions overwhelm you/excite you? I’d love to hear your thoughts. I really enjoyed Emily’s post about this too.

6. Get still with God. Really. A personal holiday tradition is reading through the Amen Paper Company Advent Devotional. This was one of the most faith-centering things for me last year, and I’m grateful to be a part of this year’s devotional (day 8!) You can still get it as a digital PDF here, and it’s not too late to start.

7. Waste no time. Having sepsis was sobering for me in many ways. Among many things God taught me in that time was how my soul had become infected with an overload of junk too. So, I significantly cleared out my internet usage. I unsubscribed from all but three newsletters, installed Waste No Time and Newsfeed Eradicator (thank you, Diana, for telling me about this one!), and took a social media hiatus. Fasting from social media is always good for my soul. It helps me remember Whose voice I should be listening to. I’m grateful for the new freedom and joy I feel in these fresh boundaries!

8. Get your PowerSheets! Because people are often sad they miss the PowerSheets boat, I’m putting a reminder here for you! The last day to order PowerSheets for you or a loved one for Christmas delivery is next Thursday, December 15th.

img_6600My mom came to visit in November, and helped us plant our winter garden, including hundreds of pansies! : ) 

9. Shhhh…. this is a little surprise for you. We haven’t given a discount code for PowerSheets this year, but I am so grateful for the love and encouragement you all have given me. So, here’s a code for 15% off anything in the shop: THANKYOUFRIENDS. This code is only good till December 31st at midnight. We are getting close to sold out of the one year workbooks, and the six month undated sets will be back in stock in a couple weeks. Sticker books are also close to gone. Feel free to share this code privately with friends. A little inside info: our sold out pens are coming back next week in a special bundle! Stay tuned. Thank you so much again, friends. I am grateful for the last year here on the blog with you! *This code is only for new orders. I didn’t ask my team if I could do this discount code and I realllllly don’t want to create an email flood for Jess our customer service gal. So please know that this discount cannot be applied to orders placed previously. Thank you for honoring this special gift! If you already placed an order before seeing this, we are so grateful for your order and can’t wait for next week’s festivities with you! : )

fullsizerender_1-copyProof of God’s faithfulness above : ) I love her so much.

10. Raise your Ebenezer. These words from Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing have been ringing in my head and heart for the last four weeks:

Here I raise my Ebenezer
Hither by thy help I come

Here I raise my hands in praise–here by Your great help I’ve come, Lord! This year, our family, living out the pages that became a book, and so much more—all praise to God for His faithfulness.

Here’s to a great rest of 2016, knowing that we don’t have to be perfect because He is!

Lara Casey signature


  1. Jessica Thornton on December 9, 2016 at 10:54 am

    So grateful for you, Lara!

  2. Allison on December 9, 2016 at 11:09 am

    I’ve always loved Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, but to be honest, I never knew what that phrase meant. How AMAZING does that translate though. Thanks for sharing that!

    On another note, how in the world do you lemon trees to look that good? I received a lemon tree last month as a gift and don’t know much about caring for it.

  3. Heather on December 9, 2016 at 11:55 am

    Thank you so much for the generous discount code. I saw on a post earlier the Life Handbook journal and I have no idea how I haven’t seen that sooner. I LOVE it and am SO excited to have something to fill out for my kids. I have wanted something where I could capture moments and advice and this will be PERFECT! Thank you for creating such a beautiful product and I can’t wait to receive it. I’m gifting two to other mothers in my life who I know will LOVE this.

  4. Catherine on December 9, 2016 at 2:22 pm

    Lara, thanks for being a joy and a blessing to me and so many others! I’m delighted that you are feeling better, and I am looking forward to the Powersheets webinar next week. Re: Bible-based entertainment for small humans, my son loved the Story Keepers cartoon series. Not sure if Grace watches TV, but I’m pretty sure you can get them on YouTube. Enjoy your Christmas season!

  5. Emily DeArdo on December 9, 2016 at 2:53 pm

    Thanks so much for those links in Number 7, Lara! Installing them now. One of the things I put in my powersheets for both this month and 2017 is to drastically reduce the time I spend on SM. I do have to spend some time there, to work on my writing and post things, but I do NOT need to spend as much time mindlessly browsing as I do!!!

  6. Jeannie on December 9, 2016 at 4:07 pm

    I just got my first powersheets in the mail yesterday. Anyway I can get that discount? I’m looking forward to having a very different year in 2017. Thanks for all your inspiration. May the wonders of His love fill your home.

    • Lara on December 10, 2016 at 6:59 am

      I’m so glad your set arrived, Jeannie! The discount code is only for new orders placed after this post was written (or I would create a bit of a nightmare for our customer service gal Jess who is already swimming in email!) but I’m so grateful for your order and that you have your set in time for next week’s festivities! : )

  7. Jeannie on December 10, 2016 at 9:41 am

    Thank you!

  8. Angela on December 11, 2016 at 12:50 pm

    I am so excited to start my power sheets next week with you all! I really enjoy understanding the whole picture, so I went back and read every blog post, (over achiever, I know) and I started the book. Just in reading the posts, I can already tell my heart and perspective has changed about goals and faith! Thank you Lara for being a blessing and such a joyful spot in my days these last few weeks!

    • Lara on December 15, 2016 at 8:30 am

      I’m so grateful to hear that, Angela! Here’s to a great year ahead!

  9. Sarah on December 13, 2016 at 2:03 pm

    You are such a blessing Lara! I cannot wait to read your book – I just can’t wait. I know that God has prepared words that SO many people need to hear! Merry Christmas to you and your family! xo

    • Lara on December 15, 2016 at 8:29 am

      Thank you so much, Sarah!

  10. Janae on December 15, 2016 at 3:54 am

    What perfect timing! I was blessed with some early birthday money, and told I could only spend it on myself. I decided I would check out power sheets for 2017. I had the individual sheets from last year, but became side-tracked and stopped using thing 1/2 through the year, or maybe I did use the most the year, I can’t remember. So i wasn’t going to purchase one this year. But something inside me guided me back to your website. And I found this discount , and it really sealed the deal for me. And that God has stretched my birthday money completely to get so many awesome things, for almost the exact amount of birthday money I was given!!! God is amazing, and I am so excited to get my power sheets next week! We are visiting family for a few days, and hopefully during the down time I will be able to start working on my workbook. 🙂

    • Lara on December 15, 2016 at 8:29 am

      I’m so excited for you, and happy birthday! : )

  11. Erin on December 15, 2016 at 1:15 pm

    I just got my first set of powersheets yesterday and I was squealing as I flipped through them last night. I set aside some time this weekend to dive in and I honestly believe these were meant for me, this coming year. Thank you and your team for all your beautiful posts and lovely smiles and most of all this incredible energy and truth that you put out into the world every day. May you all have a wonderful holiday and enjoy some down time!

    • Lara on December 15, 2016 at 5:21 pm

      Yay, Erin!! I’m so excited for you!

  12. Julie on December 20, 2016 at 3:42 pm

    Lara, I discovered #powersheets just today with a facebook video shared by a friend. I’m overjoyed! I just ordered my first one, and can’t wait for it to arrive. Thank you for sharing your journey with us as we all strive to be purposeful with the gifts God has granted us. – Julie

    • Lara on December 21, 2016 at 10:33 am

      Yay, Julie! I’m excited for you!!

  13. mary-kate gregory on December 26, 2016 at 10:41 am

    What a blessing to have these tools for 2017. I teared up watching your year in review video! THAT is cultivating what matters –having those precious memories for a lifetime. ❤

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