This may seem like an unusual place to start one of my monthly goal posts, but I’ve never felt more connected or passionate about cultivating what matters than I feel this week.
I don’t know what you are experiencing right now. Perhaps you are hurting. Perhaps you are not sure how to feel. There have been hurricanes and fires, earthquakes, suffering all over the world, and unfathomable loss in Las Vegas.
My initial reaction was to fervently call on God to help those who are hurting.
My second reaction, however, was fear. I wanted to gather all the kids in my arms and keep them close to me for the rest of my days, never going too far. Not leaving my house. Not putting myself out there.
Until something shifted.
After the kids were asleep on Monday night, Ari and I sat down for dinner and he prayed. Four times during dinner, he stopped to pray for those who are hurting in Las Vegas and in the world. He prayed almost spontaneously, at unexpected moments.
I share this little window into our dinner as a contrast to something you may not know: just a few years ago, Ari did not have a relationship with God and our marriage was a mess. If you know our story, you know his faith and the fact that we are still married is a miracle.
I wrote those words about praying for our marriage and for Ari’s heart in that difficult season. As I listened to him pray on Monday night, it hit me: I was witnessing miracles. Real life miracles right in front of me.
Reminders of God’s power to give us new life.
Reminders that God is big and He hears our prayers.
Reminders that life is fleeting and what we do here matters.
Hope flooded in.
As Ari prayed, I felt God leading me away from fear to a new place. It was as if He was saying, Lara, let the pain of the world lead you to My feet, on your knees, interceding for those who are hurting and using all you have been given to sow seeds of hope and love in this world. Use your hands and feet and mind and heart to give. And, Lara… do not hide. Get out there and give this life all you’ve got.
As we mourn and pray and give to those who are deeply hurting, I hope we don’t simultaneously fall into the trap that I almost did. The enemy wants us to give up, to hide, to run away in fear and escape. (Which is different than grieving and experiencing deep sorrow, as Jesus Himself experienced.) I truly cannot fathom directly experiencing one of these events and feel inadequate to help through my words here. I have been through devastating hurricanes that changed my family, but I certainly don’t know the specific pain that so many are experiencing right now. My heart aches and grieves and hurts for so many.
For those, like me, who were not on the ground for one of these horrific events, I hope we don’t return to life as usual, but rather life anew. My prayer is that we would be spurred on in a new direction: loving more passionately than ever and giving away our gifts and talents with greater generosity. Let us see all that we’ve been given as opportunities to grow something good in this world. And let us not take this life for granted, because we do not know if we will get tomorrow.
This fact could lead us to fear, or it could lead us to faith.
I pray we pour out our gifts with new tenderness and passion, knowing that there are so many that are hurting and need what we have been given. I pray this leads us to love the people right in front of us and afar with more conviction.
I don’t know what you are experiencing, but I do know the Light that pierces the darkness.
Lord, help us. Help us walk in the Light as You are in the Light. Help us give and love and grieve and give some more. Help us be more like You. Help us use the gift of this life to pour love into others who desperately need it. Help us to dig in right where we are and grow what lasts longer than us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
More than ever, I want to cultivate what matters–even as just one little person in this great big world. (And I sincerely feel so small!) But, I know that it only takes a tiny seed to grow into a towering tree that lasts for generations–providing shade and cleaner air and fruit for many. What we do here on this earth, no matter how small we think it is, matters.
In this new month, I’m keeping my eyes wide open for miracles that remind me of God’s power to do the impossible–taking imperfect people like me and Ari and giving us new life so that we could reflect His light right back to others.
I know I won’t be perfect in using my gifts to grow love in this world, but I think the pursuit of growing good things is worth the risk of not doing it perfectly. Here’s a little recap of September and what I hope to sow and grow in October.
September was a month full of change for us. I started homeschooling Grace (more on that below) and there were some enormous answered prayers.
Friends, thank you. I shared about the challenges we have experienced with Sarah in my last post, and so many of you offered prayers and helpful encouragement. It was incredibly helpful for both Ari and me to not feel alone in having a little one with some special needs. I want you to know that your prayers mattered. They were heard. I didn’t expect to be giving you this update, especially this quickly, but we had one of the best months with her. We have seen some surprising changes in her in the last two weeks, and our ability to help her has grown as well. This is so healing for all of us. I cannot express my gratitude enough for the gift of your prayers. I love her so much.
My girls. Photo by Gina.
My September Goals Progress:
– Start homeschool with joy. – Wow, what a transition! Yes, there have been meltdowns and a few moments of Grace literally standing on her head in protest during handwriting lessons, but overall this has been so good. I am so grateful to get to spend this time with her and grateful for these reminders that are on repeat in this new season.
If there was a photo that captured Grace’s personality, this is it.
– Give and teach the Cultivate book. – Yes, I was grateful to share lessons from the book several times, and I’m especially grateful to continue learning and living them out myself.
– Read + DO What’s Best Next – I don’t often have alone time in a car, but there were a couple evenings this month where I had to run errands after the kids were asleep. I used that time to listen to the audio version of this book.
– Love on Josh in his preschool transition. – Yes, he has loved preschool, specifically playing with playdough and snack time 🙂
This kid. I just love him.
– Wisely and diligently prepare for our 2018 PowerSheets launch. – Yes, I shared a behind-the-scenes look at our shop and how the PowerSheets were first created, and there have been several changes in our business that have helped me immensely in making progress on this goal–and on the future in general.
My PowerSheets progress from September.
– Model our new Incentive-Based Bonus System to see how it works and implement it. – Yes, Emily and I completed this.
– Decide on and plan Ari’s 40th birthday celebration for December. – I wrote out what I think will make him feel most loved, but I moved the tactical planning to October.
– Write and prep the “Cultivated Calendar” webinar with Emily Ley. – I so enjoyed teaching this with Emily and loved reading everyone’s favorite takeaways. Catch the free replay here.
– Pray for and determine our 2018 vision plan. – Yes, praise to God, we have done this.
– Write the Gracie’s Garden book. – I made a little progress here, but I didn’t complete this. Moved to October.
Breakfast before the sun comes up at our house–these three are my early alarm clock!
September weekly goals:
– Continue to practice leaning out our grocery budget. – With lots of sickness in our house and transitions happening in September, this was not a strong focus. We did use what we learned in August during our $100/week challenge though and we were much more mindful of our spending than in previous months.
– Love on my buddy for the month, Nicole. – Every month we have a different office “buddy” to encourage. I loved having Nicole as my buddy for September.
– Laugh and pray in our date nights. – Sickness strikes again. The kids got viruses, then I got a mean one, then Ari, but we did enjoy one date night in September.
September daily goals:
– Continue reading my chronological Bible reading plan for my Number 1 goal. – Yes, I made it to the New Testament and am so grateful for all I’ve learned so far.
– #RunLiftPraise – I continued walking in the mornings (with the exception of a couple morning when I couldn’t get out of bed thanks to the aforementioned mean virus), but I only did weights once in September. Writing this update is so helpful to keep me accountable and choose progress, not perfection. Back in the saddle I go this week…
– Delight our children – I truly had a wonderful month with the kids–sickness, transitions, meltdowns and all. Is may sound cheesy to say, but I love being their mom. It’s one of my greatest joys. We had a lot of fun together this month and I focused on being intentional with them more than ever.
We harvested carrots from the garden in September and hung our new bee house.
– Eat more green. – I made a strong effort here and feel much better thanks to a little spinach at most meals plus lots of veggie soup.
– SLEEP + REST (i.e. Read a good book before bed instead of looking at my phone which keeps me from falling asleep well) – Yes. I made progress here.
Here are my PowerSheets goals for October:
My October PowerSheets goals. The PostIt is the list of blog and newsletters I have to write this month for our PowerSheets launch.
October Monthly Goals:
– Read + DO What’s Best Next .
– Cultivate our 2018 release with prayer (no better fertilizer and soil nutrient!). The 2018 PowerSheets go on sale on October 25th.
– Write Gracie’s Garden.
– Uncover God’s wisdom for our family with Ari. We came to a point with three very different children at different developmental stages, where we needed to get on the same page to help them flourish. From resetting our approach to discipline in these new stages to making progress on our family goals, this has been so helpful already. We started talking through it this week, hitting on the “pain points” first: What situations arise where we don’t feel unified in our approach to family conflict and issues with the kids? What can we do better together to show them God’s love? Even in one brief conversation so far, we’ve seen a difference in how the kids react to us being together on how we love and guide them. Much more to come here.
– Nurture the hearts in this home in new ways. This goes hand-in-hand with the goal above. Once we uncover God’s wisdom, putting it into practice together.
– Create my Cultivate Calendar for Q4 (the last three months of this year) and 2018. I am so excited to go through all 10 of the steps I shared here for the weeks and months ahead.
– Set joyful plans for Ari’s 40th birthday.
– Set our new budget. It has been on our prayer list for many months to be more sacrificial in giving. Resetting our budget is a focus in October.
– Start reading Traction.
October Weekly Goals:
– Meal prep. I am so grateful for a tip I learned from this book about flipping the script on “meal planning.” I am not a meal planner. With Ari’s unpredictable work schedule and kids who eat dinner at 4 pm, I need the flexibility to make meals that fit our families needs that day. I loved the idea of focusing on meal prep – preparing ingredients to be made into quick and easy meals – instead of meal planning, and doing it right when you bring groceries into the house. I gave it a try this weekend and it has been so helpful.
– Homeschool with joy. This may seem small, but this is one of the goals that I feel so deeply passionate about in the wake of all of these tragedies. I pray I can sow as much love into Grace’s heart as I can in my lifetime.
October Daily Goals:
– Continue reading my chronological Bible reading plan for my Number 1 goal.
– #RunLiftPraise – Start weights back up again so I can have strength to love my family well.
– Eat green + clean for the same reason as above.
– Rest in the Spirit. This points to my verse this month: He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty (Psalm 91:1).
– Raw prayer (I am grateful for my prayer journal). So much prayer continues to pour out for so many needs in the world, in our community, and in this home. I am grateful for a God who hears us.
– My words for the quarter and for the month: Rely (on God, not myself) + Cultivate (do what He says — dig in, little by little).
Your turn! Do you have goals for October? 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 September’s winner, Jaclyn!