Let’s dig right in: How was October for you?
Wait–what’s that I hear??
Let’s hit the brakes for a minute because I think I can hear your thoughts from here! 🙂
When I asked how October was, did you think of the hard things first—or want to skip answering that question entirely? (It’s okay if you felt that urge!)
We often want to MOVE FORWARD instead of looking back, right? Even if there was a lot of good in the month, we want to move on.
Let’s flip the script for a minute.
Before a farmer plants a seed, what does she do? She evaluates her growing ground–the soil she’s standing on. She looks back at the last growing season to learn from what went well and what didn’t. Do you know what’s exciting about that, something that so many people miss?? Rich soil is filled with transformed remnants of the past. Those bits of the past help plants to flourish.
The same is true for us.
When we take a look at where we are, and how we got here, we get to reap the rewards of retrospect.
And we can do this quickly together right now! A few seconds answering 5 simple questions can potentially help us gain years of intentional living–totally worth it.
Planting our winter garden–the pansies are back!
My PowerSheets help me take a quick look back each month so I can move forward with confidence and clarity. Here are some of the questions for you to try yourself:
- What were you especially grateful for in October?
- Who were you grateful for and why?
- What is a favorite memory from October?
- What are you choosing grace over guilt about?
- What good lessons did you learn?
Here are my answers (in my messy handwriting!):
Those few seconds of intentional retrospect help me see the good–even in the small things– and get after what’s next. Here’s a deeper look at what I learned and my October Goals Progress:
October Monthly Goals:
– Read + DO What’s Best Next . – Even though I didn’t read more of the book in October (I redirected here and focused on reading Traction instead), I practiced the principles I’ve learned so far. In October, I focused on leading my team to make the good of others our top priority–read the letter I wrote them here.
– Cultivate our 2018 PowerSheets release with prayer (no better fertilizer and soil nutrient!). – So, a funny thing happened. I prayed for humility, and the Lord answered in several ways, one of which was a little challenge at the start of our launch day. Things that feel like challenges at the time might just be God growing you. It’s not fun many times, but now I see it as an answered prayer!
– Write Gracie’s Garden. – I redirected here, too, and have moved this to December.
– Uncover God’s wisdom for our family with Ari. – Read more about this in my October goals post. We made progress, but not in the way I expected! This has brought me to my knees the most in the last few weeks.
Challenge and conflict are a part of marriage. What makes a healthy marriage isn’t a lack of conflict; it’s learning to embrace it and dig into it in a healthy way. We humans don’t often like to talk about conflict, do we? If we don’t talk about these things, though, it’s so easy for others to feel isolated–like something is wrong with us if we have tension in marriage or family at times. We all have it!
Some challenges are harder than others, and we’ve had some of those lately. The interesting thing is that Ari and I are great. We’re closer than ever. But the enemy does not like that. The enemy likes to bring friction where good is happening. The enemy would rather I not write this paragraph or be married at all. The enemy does not want me to tell you our story.
In fact, he tried to convince me not to share any of this in this post. But, I hope this helps someone!
Our marriage used to be very different. We used to fight without hope of resolution. We started sleeping in separate beds. It all seemed impossible to change. We have a bedrock of faith together now, but does this mean our marriage is magically perfect or we don’t sometimes lose sight of that hope? No. It means we have a way to get back on track–a source of conflict resolution and a Counselor to help us when things get challenging. And it also means we get attacked.
When it feels like the rug has been pulled out and I’m on my knees on the hard ground–I get two choices: my way or His way. My way tends to be trying to control or fix challenges, to blame or be prideful when I feel hurt. His way is for me to LET GO.
‘The truth is, I’m fearfully, imperfectly, and wonderfully made. And so are you. There have been many times of transformation in my life—not a single, all-at-once event—all leading me closer to the woman God created me to be. Like layers of petals that come undone over time to reveal a fruitful center, I’ve been in a continual state of coming undone. It turns out that coming undone is part of coming alive.‘ – from Cultivate (page 51)
I came undone a little more in October, and for that, I’m now grateful. (See, the gifts of retrospect are real!) I feel fired up about growing my faith and Ari and I have stronger armor on.
More on this in my November goals in a minute…
Back to October progress…
– Nurture the hearts in this home in new ways. – Yes. How? Nothing complex here. By being on their level, doing the things that make them feel loved. But, I have failed here so many times, too. I have raised my voice and lost my cool and seen my sin as clear as day. This has also prompted the PostIt Prayers you’ll see in a minute…
– Create my Cultivated 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. – I made progress here in the last couple days of October (I made my list of important holidays and celebrations for each month and put them in priority order) with more to come this month.
– Set joyful plans for Ari’s 40th birthday. – Done. Thanks to your advice in my Instagram lives in October, I told him to kindly stop asking about having a party for his birthday because I’ve got this! 🙂
– Set our new budget. – Progress was made here and we hope to have it done by next week. The hardest part so far has been deciding on sub-categories in our “shopping” budget, which includes everything from homeschool supplies to toilet paper. Anyone have advice here? What categories do you find helpful in general for your personal budget?
– Start reading Traction.– Yes! I am so grateful to be reading this with my coworker, Emily.
I never end a month with all my PowerSheets bars and boxes filled in, because it’s about progress, not perfection–and little-by-little progress adds up!
October Weekly Goals:
– Meal prep. – This has become a habit now. I make a batch of vegetable chicken soup on Sunday that lasts us till Wednesday. We hard boil about 2 dozen eggs, too, and try to have cut veggies and easy things to grab throughout the week. For those that don’t know, we gave up family dinners a long time ago for the sake of our sanity and sleep! The kids eat dinner really early (around 5) and go to sleep shortly after (Sarah at 5, Josh at 6, and Grace at 7) so that Ari and I can have time together at night and everyone is rested in the morning. Ari’s schedule is unpredictable, so the pressure of dinner as a family every night had to go. We do breakfast with daddy instead, and everyone is a lot happier. This is why “meal prep” fits us better than traditional “meal planning.”
– Homeschool with joy. – Now that we are through the getting-our-feet-wet stage, it’s time for me to get after this more.
October Daily Goals:
– Continue reading my chronological Bible reading plan for my Number 1 goal.– Yes. I have continued listening to the audio version first thing in the morning on the Bible app before the kids wake up.
– #RunLiftPraise – Start weights back up again so I can have the strength to love my family well. – I am so grateful for you all encouraging me on this one! It took a couple weeks to get back on track, but I have had a lot of fun doing this in the morning with the kids. Josh even says, “Mommeeee!!! Ab time?” Which, for him, means climb-all-over-mommy time, as evidenced below…
Photo by Grace of the Mommy Couch during “ab time” 🙂
– Eat green + clean. – Yes. Although, I discovered Sunbutter recently and it’s way too good.
– Rest in the Spirit. – Yes, but not by my efforts or with ease. It was a challenging month as I mentioned earlier. I clung to the Lord in those times which gave me new peace and rest in my soul–even in the mess.
– 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. – Yes. Raw prayer continues as something I am cultivating.
– Praise dance. – This was my favorite! We did a lot of praise dance parties in the mornings, as you may have seen on my Instagram stories.
Here are my PowerSheets goals for November:
My last goal update hit a chord with you, and I’m so glad it did. We each have a unique purpose and it’s time to get after it. My theme for November is to do just that and, after what I learned in October, I feel double passionate about getting after this life: passionately pursuing my faith, my husband, my family, raw prayer, the work I’ve been given to do, and getting after grateful.
The PostIts are prayers to direct my thoughts and actions this month.
November Monthly Goals:
– Prioritize with diligence. – I know this may sound funny, but prioritizing in new ways is my top priority. A friend told me something this week that stuck with me: if everything is a priority, nothing is. Prioritizing means to choose one that is above all the others. I have already searched scripture for direction on this. Here’s the best verse I can find on how to prioritize. This is my verse this month.
Why this goal? So many reasons. I work 40 hours a week as the CEO of a growing company, I homeschool two half-days a week, I have three kiddos I love to love, and I have a marriage to cultivate. I want to do these things well, working heartily from a place of rest and trust in Him. The transition to homeschooling has led me to rely on His strength more, and I am grateful for that. But in the fringe moments between all of this lately, I have been tempted to the extremes of getting just one more thing done and wearing myself out, or idleness–which is different than truly resting. Instead of being tempted to strive, or be lazy, I want to keep coming undone.
I want to surrender the things that might be good, but might not be His priorities for me in this season–or at all.
Prioritizing doesn’t mean doing more; it means doing the right things and surrendering the rest.
– Cultivate my calendar.– I feel the urgency to do this task now! Grace’s 6th birthday and Thanksgiving are ahead.
– #GetAfterGrateful project. – I’m all onboard the Rach Kincaid train this month! I wrote about her and this phrase in Cultivate and I hope you will jump on this train with us. My project? Writing 30 Ebenezers–30 specific remembrances of God’s faithfulness in our family (see Chapter 10 of Cultivate). I may share them on the blog with you. Also included in this goal is to continue praise dancing, singing, and expressing my gratitude.
– Write my (7th annual!) 2018 Goal Setting Series with fresh eyes. – This is the most popular series here on the blog each year, and my hope is that this month prepares me to write it with fresh eyes and rooted faith. Mark your planners for December 20th, the first day of the series!
– Be a light-filled mom from resting in you, Lord. – My PostIt Prayers will help with this one.
– Less house, more home. – We had several major home repairs made in October: replaced a cracked and moldy shower (black mold all through the insulation in our bathroom), kitchen repairs and updates, walls that were cracked from our foundation settling, leaky sinks, broken doors (our front door wouldn’t close!)–so many things needed fixing and updating. Let me tell you though, once you start fixing things, your eyes start noticing more things to fix. I want my eyes fixed elsewhere, knowing I can’t take this house to Heaven with me! While there are still many things to put back together after our repairs, my focus is on cultivating our life-giving home. Less working on the house; more nurturing the souls in it.
My sweet buddy on launch day.
November Weekly Goals:
– Homeschool with diligence–careful and persistent work and effort.
– Continue reading and implementing Traction.
November Daily Goals:
– Raw prayer.
– Continue reading my chronological Bible reading plan for my Number 1 goal.
– Eat green + clean.
– Prioritize. This is also a daily goal because, in learning how to prioritize in new ways, I want to act on it. Little by little, I believe this will add up to change in every area of our lives.
I’m not sure this counts as a Halloween costume because it’s my REAL LIFE.
Your turn! Do you have goals for November? 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, as well as a T from Simply Sow and a copy of Sally Clarkson’s new book, The Lifegiving Table (so good!). I love sending real mail, and I love hearing your thoughts!
Congrats to October’s winner, Stacey Meredith!
P.S. We’re HIRING!