Episode 008 of the Cultivate Your Life Podcast was released on February 20th, 2019. Listen here! [unedited transcript follows]

[sound effects] Hi, sleepyhead.

I love you so much!

I love you.

Happy Birthday.

Are you ready? Are you ready to get up?

Hey, mommy!

Papa!

How’s everybody dinner?

Delicious!

Delicious!

We wish you a Merry Christmas! We wish … [end of sound effects]

Do you ever fantasize about time freezing and you just getting a moment to catch up with life? Maybe you blinked and you feel like, where did another year go? And then there are these two little words that keeps slipping out of your mouth, what are those words? Time flies. Today, my friend, you are going to learn the six secrets of slowing down time and spending it like this is the only life you’ve got. Let’s talk.

You know all those things you’ve always wanted to do. You should go do them. The things that last longer than you, the things that run deeper and are more thrilling than skydiving, the things that make you come alive. Welcome to the Cultivate Your Life podcast, where each week we talk about how to uncover what matters to you in the big picture and start acting like it today.

Whether you’re feeling stuck, overwhelmed or in need of some refreshing truth today. I’m Lara and you are in the right place. Let’s cultivate what matters together.

Welcome to the Cultivate Your Life podcast. It’s so great to chat with you again. Hello! If you’ve been feeling like life is passing so quickly and you want to live it with no regrets, you made a great decision listening today, today’s episode will change your life. I don’t really know how else to say it. Today, maybe the most important message I delivered to you of my whole life. No pressure, right? It’s true.

We are going to do a little treasure hunt today, the treasure we’re after, the gift of perspective. I love where we live because you drive home from the grocery store to our house and here’s a cow farm on one side, our mailman lives on another side and he grows like Rutabagas and mustard greens and all the good stuff, and you drive down a little further, there’s another cow farm. And then suddenly you’re back in suburbia. That happens so often when we’re driving around with the kids and they’re in those giant tank looking car seats. And I say, “Oh look at those cows over there,” and they quickly pass by and poor Josh and Sarah they were just like, “Mommy I didn’t see, can’t see, can’t see.”

And it just makes me think of the many times where I feel like life is passing me by and cows of life, oh those metaphor. The cows of life are passing me by and I’m just not seeing them because I’m thinking about something else, or I’m looking the other direction or I’m distracted. It’s the same thing with our lives. Why we feel like it’s passing so quickly? We’re just not present for it, we’re not really there. All bovine metaphors side, clearly I need to stay in my lane, garden metaphors in my thing. But I really hope that, that helped to illustrate it for you that it feels like that sometimes where we’re in this car of life and it’s just driving so fast and we blink, and we didn’t even really see what was along the journey. We’re not really there. Are you feeling that? Life is moving so fast and you feel like you’re missing it.

Let me tell you a story. You and I had a great chat in episode one about my time in college of struggling with anorexia, struggling with control. I wanted to be in control of my life, my days of what people thought of me, of my value, and so I tried to hold tight to the one thing, I felt like I had somewhat of daily control over and that was food.

One day on the treadmill in the gym, I suddenly felt my heart pounding erratically in my chest, in a way that I’d never felt before. And I felt like my heart was actually going to jump out of my body, and I felt God saying to me in that moment, “Lara, you are going to die from this if you don’t get off now.” God wasn’t telling me to just get off the treadmill. He was telling me to stop chasing, perfect to stop holding so tightly to the reins of control or die.

My life flashed before me in that moment I thought, “No, no, this is not going to take my life.” And I got off and I called my mom and for the first time I asked for help, it was like the veil had been pulled off of me, and those reins of control just got ripped out of my hand. I just almost threw them in my brain, I just threw them back to God. I said, “No, my life will not be taken for this,” and I was forced to confront this truth that, “Oh, life is short and I want to live it.”

Have you ever had an experience that just snapped you right back to reality? Maybe it was an actual life or death experience, maybe it’s a challenge that you’re in right now or even something as beautiful as the birth of a child, good or bad. These experiences can give us the clarity and drive and passion and motivation to make the most of this life, to start living it on purpose instead of by accident. Whether you’ve had one of those experiences or you can recall it or not, there’s really two choices in how you think about life.

Either life is short and that facts terrifies you, so much so that you just don’t want to think about it. Let’s just keep going with life, let’s not think about the end. So you escape sometimes to distractions or Instagram or scrolling or mindless activities. And then you wake up one day and you think, “Whoa! Where did the time go? Where did another year go? Where did the last hour go?” I feel like I’m not really living, that’s choice number one, or you see that life here is finite and you feel a thrill of hope. This life is a gift and you want to use every bit of it well.

I’m going to guide you to get there to that second choice. We’ve all had these experiences that beg us to use our lives well, these gifts of perspective. Think back to difficult things you’ve experienced or maybe you’re in the middle of one right now. These hard things can become tipping points. So I looked this up, but what in the world is a tipping point? Tipping points as per the dictionary is the critical point in a situation beyond which a significant and unstoppable effect or change takes place. That really struck me.

It’s a point in our lives where because of what we’ve experienced, we can’t help but change. Think about even something as wonderful and marvelous as a glorious sunset. So you sit down or maybe you just walk outside and you encounter a sunset and, “Oh, I love the colors, like a blazing orange that turns into hot pink that goes into a blue, it’s captivating.” But here’s this funny thing that happens. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced this, but when I look at a sunset, it takes my breath away and I look at it for a moment and I try to just take a deep breath and soak it in.

And there comes this point of uncomfortability where if I look too long, I subconsciously think, “Whoa! I feel like my heart’s going to explode because God is real and he’s so loving.” And I stopped looking at that sunset because that reality calls me to change, and sometimes I don’t want to and that’s okay. You and I have had such good conversations lately about how change is hard about how our brains, they don’t like change, they cringe at the thought of it and that’s okay. But I do have a hunch that you are ready for some change, right?

There’s something in you that is actually excited about grabbing this life by the horns and making the most of it, so let’s do it. Grab a piece of paper, the back of an envelope, the back of a receipt, whatever you got and start to write down some of your own experiences that have given you perspective, that have made you think, “Whoa! I actually want to be living life differently. I don’t feel like I have been living life the way I want to and this experience has changed me in some way,” and I’m going to share a few of the different points that I’ve had as a spring word to hopefully help you to uncover your own.

In episode one, we chatted about how I left theater to pursue personal training. I really though left theater to pursue I had no idea. I just knew that I was not going to audition for my life for the rest of my life. And so I closed the door on that chapter and what was left before me was just an open door, it was terrifying, but I knew I didn’t want to do that. But why? What was the tipping point before that? What I didn’t have time to share with you in that episode that I’m going to share with you now is my grandfather’s death was the tipping point.

It was a few weeks before that, that my mom had called me bright and early on a November morning and said, “Your grandfather’s Cecil has gone to be with the Lord.” I stood at the podium giving his eulogy at the age of 21 and it was in the middle of the service and the back doors open. And two of my younger brother’s friends who were kind of like troublemakers at the time, or at least I thought of them that way, which I shouldn’t have judged them in that way. I remember them walking into that service to love and support my brother and they were all dressed up in these three piece suits.

And to see those young boys completely changed by this very humble man’s life. It really left an impression on me that there’s something, what is it that grandpa Cecil had, what I want that, I want to live that life. And I just recalled in my mind so many times of him being outside while my dad or my brother was tinkering with the car and they were trying to repair this old car and my brother’s friends would be there. And I just imagine those little bits and pieces of conversations that he had with those young boys that ended up being seeds of faith planted in their hearts. That was the tipping point for me.

This man who had no accomplishments on paper to speak of, no awards or accolades or traditional things that we might think of as success. His greatest accomplishment, if you were to ask him right now, he would tell you, “Oh, without a doubt, his greatest accomplishment was being married to Celeste.” My grandmother and that changed me, that caused me to want to step into this huge life change that felt so big and so scary and like everyone’s going to be disappointed in me. It caused me to know that life is short and it’s a gift and I wanted to use it well.

So I walked into my agent’s office, I quit theater, I walked out and like I said, the only thing that’s there is this open door, I had no idea what I was going to do next with my life. That open door ended up being me opening the door of crunch gym, then I became a personal trainer as you know from episode one. And here’s a little fun fact. When I lived in New York City, this is totally not related to this episode. Fun fact, when I lived in New York City, I lived in the same building as Tim Keller and we would often chat at the mailboxes. I used to like go to his church a bunch of times and just back before he was Tim Keller, and also fun fact.

This was also during the time when Sex and the City was like the show. I once worked with Mr. Big on strengthening his abs, but back to this episode, far more important things. Another tipping point in my life was, again, I shared with you in episode one hurricane Ivan, but more specifically in that experience was the moment my dad called us right after the storm had passed and I was not expecting a phone call from him. I mean here, this town, I’m watching the news, I’m in New York City watching the news happen in Pensacola, Florida and definitely not going to hear from my parents for a few days if not weeks because there’s some power, there’s nothing but somehow the phone rings and it’s my dad, and his voice was so shaky on the other end of the line and come to find out he had waited through waist high water, through well, my mom later told me it was electrical lines and snakes and so many things all the way from our house to the police station which was a good five miles away.

He had waited through all that debris, just to let us know they were okay, just to call us and say, “We’re here, we love you, we’re good,” he knew, he knew that we would be worrying. And I just had this picture of my poor dad wading through all this debris just to tell us, “Lara, we’re okay.” That changed me. I thought, “Whoa! Life is short and it is a gift, get me there.” And I got on a plane and we got to the house and as you know from episode one, the rest of my life changed.

So I sat down with Ari last night and I asked him what were some of your experiences that changed you? And first thing that comes to mind of course, as it does for me is when he was deployed to Iraq with the marines at the height of the Iraq war. And I distinctly remember the feeling of being on that base the day that he was set to fly to Ireland and then onto Al-Taqaddum Iraq. And I remember him getting his hair shaved off and him getting fitted with his rifle and having to sign all these papers and pulling up to the hanger where they tried to make us all feel better, they had lunch for us and nobody ate. We all just clung to our people knowing that this could be it, this could be it.

And I laugh about it now, but it was not funny at the time. I drove off from that experience just feeling this weight of, “Wow, life is short.” I was feeling devastated by my new husband flying off to war, and I was not paying attention to my speedometer. I was driving from Yuma, Arizona through the great state of Texas and I got pulled over and I got my first speeding ticket of my life and the guy says, “License and registration,” and I’m like bawling my eyes out like I couldn’t help but I was just devastated. I said, “My husband just got deploy to Iraq,” and he said, “That’s great license and registration.” So I was not too happy at the time, but I understand people got to do their jobs and I was speeding.

Moving on. It was the experience of constantly being faced with the brevity of life through Ari’s deployment that caused me to sit down at my little 13-inch PC and start a wedding magazine. I thought, why not? Life is short and it’s a gift. Fast forward in our lives now to four years after we had Grace, our first child, and I got pregnant again, so excited to gift Grace a sibling and we had prayed so much about this and I had a miscarriage.

You can read about that entire story and journey and my second book “Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life.” But what I’ll tell you here is that experience of losing a baby, there’s nothing like it. Now, did I immediately draw a life lesson from that experience? No, I grieved, it was hard, but there were immediate moments of thinking, “Whoa! All those things I was worrying about five minutes before this happened. They just don’t matter.”

And when the time was right, when the Lord lifted the weight, just a little bit, just enough to give me a little tiny spark of hope about life. I mean, it took weeks when the Lord lifted that from me, I could start to see the gifts, I didn’t want to, I was angry, I didn’t want to see any good outcome out of what felt so painful. And maybe you’re there right now too, you’re thinking this is all great, but I’m in a really difficult situation, or you don’t know my pain and you’re right.

I don’t but the Lord does, that experience gave me so many gifts of perspective, including obviously being so grateful for the child I did have for Grace. And finding a deep compassion for women who have gone through loss and that has been a gift that keeps on giving. Our time of miscarriage and then waiting through this very long season of trying to have another baby and it not happening. The Lord opened our hearts to adoption, which is a whole another story that I’ll tell you in another episode.

But for now in that process of doing the adoption paperwork, we had to call friends to ask if they would take care of our children when we died. If we were to die before our children reach the age of 18 or able to take care of themselves, would they step in? I remember thinking, this is a large ask, this isn’t like, can I borrow a cup of sugar or can I borrow your DVD? This is, will you, are you willing to love our children like we love them for the rest of their lives if we were to die?

And let me tell you, just chatting with you about this is difficult because it is so hard to think about these things and even just remember talking about death, who wants to do that? But I will tell you on the other side of it, stepping into the pain of the moment of going there always produces treasure, treasure that you can’t buy. It’s the treasure of learning to number your days.

So I really like Moses. Moses says, my homeboy, because Moses did not feel equipped when God told him to go and talk to Pharaoh and I can relate to that. And I mean, I really can’t even count how many times God has nudged me to do something, and I immediately retort with, but God, have you seen the person you’re asking to do this? I am not equipped. I am not capable. I am not enough. I’m not smart enough. I don’t have the acumen to do this. I mean I have given the Lord so many lists of what I feel like our facts, but he probably thinks they’re excuses. Let’s be real.

So Moses, I want you to picture it, walking through the desert with your sandals on, and you are wandering in the desert alongside my man, Moses. You and your traveling crew have mostly complained to Moses in the middle of this journey through the desert, Moses stops and here’s what he says to God. All right, buckle your seat belts people. Psalm 90, we’re starting in verse 10.

“Our days may come to 70 years, or 80, if our strength endures,” yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow for they quickly pass and we fly away. If only we knew the power of your anger, your wrath is as great as the fear that is your do. Here’s the verse. What this thing can? Verse 12, “Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” There you go. “Teach us to number our days. Help us to make the most of what we’ve been given.”

Do you feel that? Do you feel like you’ve been wandering in your own desert for a while complaining, wearing your Toga and sandals? And you feel like life is just passing you by and a lot of days they just feel the same. Sometimes you wake up and you think, “Whoa! It’s another day. Where did this time go?” Moses is giving us a clue into how to slow down time. Moses recognizes the brevity of life in the psalm he says, “Our days are maybe 70 years, maybe 80, and Lord help us. Most of them are just trouble and toil, please help us to make the most of them. Teach us your ways.”

There have been so many years, so many times I felt like I was living by accident instead of living on purpose. And these experiences we have talked about together, the ones you wrote down, these tipping points that you’ve been through, they may have been there in your life to help give you the gift of perspective, to help you to number your days and gain a heart of wisdom. We can keep doing life the same old way, we’ve always done it or we you, my friend can double down on your minutes, your hours and your days and use them intentionally.

When we recognize that we only have so much time on this earth, that truth will help us to think about how to spend it. When we number our days, like Psalm 90:12 tells us, “We will strive to fill each one with value living every moment for what lasts.” I’m going to unpack six practical ways to help you number your days.

Number one, you’re going to run your numbers. Number two, you’re going to do a life audit. Number three, you’ll make change while you can. Number four, you’re going to set some nudges in place. Number five, you’ll set your sights on the big picture and act like it today. And number six, you’re going to live it out and plan your year. Let’s do it.

Number one, run your numbers. All right, I took three life expectancy tests, you guys know these are out there, just Google it. You’ll find a whole host of different options, different questions. And I know only the Lord knows how many days we have on this earth that could be one, that could be a 100, he knows. But it’s still very helpful to look at these average life expectancy numbers to give you a little perspective that you may not have had before.

So in these three tests, which were varied in scope, one was maybe four questions, one was five pages long, everything from my medical history to what I do on a daily basis, how I view life, either with hope or without. And then one was from the Social Security Administration. So the first test said, “I would live to the age of 94,” the second much longer test, which I thought for sure when they asked me all these medical questions, so many detailed things that my number was going to be really low. Well, according to this test, “I’m going to be around until I’m a 104. How about that?”

And also the Social Security Administration test said, “My life expectancy is about 85.5, I don’t know where I get an extra half of a year.” I don’t know. But thank you. Social Security Administration, I’m very grateful for that extra half a year. So the average across the board though, through various research platforms for women born around the time that I was, which was around 1977 through ’79 average life expectancy for us ladies is 77 years old. Average life expectancy for men is 70.

All right, so let’s just take the lowest number here, which again, I could die in the next hour, I could die tomorrow, but just for our sake here, we’re going to take the lowest number. That means that I maybe, maybe have 38 years left. That means that the majority of my years, I’m 39 right now, I’m gonna be 40 this year. The majority of my years are likely behind me. Now, let’s run the numbers and I want you to do the same.

That means there’s potentially 38 more seasons left in the garden for me, 38 birthdays, 38 springs and smelling the bulbs and the daffodils, 38 summers running in the sprinklers. I hope I’m writing in the sprinklers that whatever ripe old age the Lord lets me live to, maybe it’s more like, I dunno, 20 years, 38 times to see the leaves change, 38 Christmases. Also, I have lord willing, 30 years left with Ari. That’s 30 Valentine states, 30 chances to sing him Happy Birthday, 30 more summers together, watching him grill with friends and loving it, 30 more adventures to Wanda’s blueberry patch down the street to pick blueberries, 30 more Christmas mornings and New Year’s Eve kisses shared.

Also, I’m running my numbers, I realize this one’s more of a fact. If the Lord lets me live another 10 years, I mean I really only have 10 years left with Grace in the house, she’s seven, so I get about 10, 11 more years with Grace unless she stays home, which I’d be cool with. You can live here for college Grace, it’s cool. So I probably have 10 years left with Grace in the house. I got maybe one more year of my two littlest taking naps, which I love waking them up from their naps.

I have about six more months, Lord willing of diaper changes, maybe less, that would be awesome. My dad is 83, my mom is 71 and by all of these life expectancy standards, that means that I’ve used 97% of my time with them already, there’s maybe 3% left. So we see my parents about two to three times a year, and in running my numbers in preparation for our chat together today, I realize how short my time left is with them. Life is too short and too precious to waste it or to wait to spend it well. Perfect! I’m going to pause, because I’m gonna go call my mom, peace out.

This has been such a fruitful gift for me to consider these averages and to count my days to literally number my days and see that I could use them better. Here’s the thing, it is so easy to forget this perspective, it’s so easy. It’s like you watch a really good movie and it changes your heart, it moves you in some way, and you think to yourself, “Wow, all of my life is going to be different now, and then all of a sudden it’s not.”

So in those moments, here we are at number two. Number two is do a life audit. In those moments when you get a burst of clarity about what matters and what doesn’t and you think, “Whoa, I need to change my life, do a little life audit, check in and see how am I doing with this gift of a life? How am I using it?”

We call this a cultivated life evaluation or a life audit, if you will, and you can make up your own categories but here are some starting categories for you. So write down these categories and next to each category you’re going to write out a number between one and 10. Just a way for you to do a little check in and say, “How am I doing?” Now, number one means that you really want change in this area, you are desiring a dramatic transformation in this area.

Number 10, if you give it that rating, it means you are happy as a bee on honeysuckle, you’re good. So let’s just do a little check in, starting with your health, how do you feel like you’re doing with making positive choices for your health and your wellness and the things that are in your control, how you doing? And let’s just stop right here.

If you are already feeling tense thinking, “Ah, I am not doing so well with my health choices, I don’t even know if I want to go to the next category.” If you feel like all your ratings are going to be really low, just think that means you have more opportunity for positive change ahead. You my friend, you see challenge as opportunity. You see dirt and you think I could plant something in that. So without further ado, here’s the rest of the categories. Category number one is health. Next category is friends. Another area to check in is finances. How are you doing with that? What about spiritual personal health?

Next is a spouse or significant other if that’s applicable to you, and remember your significant other could be, your really significant best friend over your roommate. You get to make up your own categories here. Another category to check in on is family and work and recreation. So we’re going to summarize those again, health, friends, finances, spiritual and personal growth. A spouse or significant other could be your best friend, family, work and recreation.

Again, you can make up your own categories. These are just suggestions to get you thinking, “How am I doing in my life?” Just give them a really quick rating between one and 10 and remember, if all your ratings are really low, it just means you have a really good opportunity ahead for change and you don’t have to change all right now. Go back and listen to episode two where we talk about how it’s okay to grow slow, so we’re just laying a foundation here for the next question.

Now that you have seen a little bit about where you are and where you hope to be, what needs to grow, what needs some nurturing, stop for a second. I’m going to ask you to get really still right now, and I know that’s hard and maybe earn a treadmill listening to me or you are out walking, that’s cool, it just means still in your heart. Just get really still for a minute and answer this question.

What are you using your life for? It’s really easy for me to use it for things that don’t last. When I get really still though, and I recount all of the tipping points which are really markers of God’s faithfulness. He brought good things out of hard things and he keeps doing it. Beauty out of ashes when I get really still and I remember those things and I remember the brevity and beauty of life, I remember why I’m here. He put me here to plant seeds of faith and there are many times when I flat out forget that.

What about you? When you get really still for just a moment, what’s your answer? What do you feel like you’re using your life for? And if your answer is not where you want to be, it’s not what you want to be spending your time on, you feel like you’re not using your life for the right things. That’s okay. Right where you are is right where you’re supposed to be to take a leap of faith forward.

Number three, I’m excited to dig in here. Number three is make change while you can, that doesn’t mean, “Hey, make change because you’re going to die tomorrow.” We’re not talking about that. It’s make change while you have the clarity in those experiences or right now as you’re listening, make change while you can. It’s like the phrase, make hay while the sun shines, or strike when the iron is hot or get going.

I don’t know any other phrases. Yeah, I like those though. The make hay while the sun shines. Strike while the iron is hot. I feel like my grandmother said this all the time and I see why, because sometimes you need to make a bold change. So I was actually talking to my mother-in-law last night. He was visiting and she’s 71 and she just retired recently from a career in the school system, and she is surrounded right now she and my father-in-law just moved to a retirement community in Florida and she is surrounded by reminders of life being finite all the time. She was telling me about this, that they have strict parking rules because so many emergency vehicles come down their street every day.

That’ll get you thinking about what matters most, won’t it? So sharing with her last night over dinner what I was going to chat with you about today, what you and I were going to talk about, and she said to me, “Yes, I know what you mean. It’s like when you have something pivotal happened and you just don’t pivot.” I’m going to say that again, that hit me, it’s like when you have something pivotal happen and you don’t pivot. You just keep on doing the same things you’ve always done, like we talked about before. It’s like when you watch a movie and you’re so moved and you think all of my life is going to be different from here on out, and then it’s not.

Now remember how our brains like pattern and safety, that’s really why that happens because we have these pivotal experiences and change is hard, it’s just a fact. But what about the times you have changed? What caused you to do that? When I think back to the times that I do change, I think it’s because that big bold change that I know I need to make and here’s the key and it’s benefits far outweigh the stress of change that I know I will inevitably experience for a period of time because change is hard and when we change, when we choose change, whether it’s a really good goal or a habit, we want to cultivate whatever it is, when we choose change, it’s going to cause us stress, it’s just a fact.

Sometimes we choose that we even choose the stress because we know in the big picture it’s gonna be worth it. So here’s my charge to you, get to it. Now, I’m not saying that you should rely on emotions or impulse to guide you, what I am saying though is that when God gives you a very clear picture of his realness and a bold leap of faith presents itself, considerate. I all too often, maybe you feel this way too. I all too often stop myself in those moments and tell myself to calm down.

Don’t do anything drastic, Lara. It’s like when you feel this urge to change or you have changed in your heart or your life and you think, “I just need to reorganize our whole house or get a drastic haircut.” Sometimes those cravings that you have were external change, like reorganizing your whole house. Sometimes those things are assigned of interchange that want so desperately to happen. I stopped myself in those turning point opportunities though, because I don’t want to be foolish. I don’t want to act on emotion, I sometimes, y’all, what I’m about to say? This is it, I sometimes avoid obedience and these opportunities to trust him in the name of being smart.

So I sleep on it, I think on it, I even tell myself I should pray about this more, right? Praying about things more as good, but sometimes when God says go, you should just go. All right, let’s break out the Bible. Okay, Matthew 4:18, here we go and let me just tell you what happens right before this.

So Jesus begins to preach, the man doesn’t waste any time. It doesn’t waste any time, the first thing he says is, “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is near,” and then get this in the next part. Matthew 4:18, “As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake for they were fishermen. Come follow me,” Jesus said, “And I will send you out to fish for people.”

All right, so let’s just imagine this, just imagine it. You’re out there doing your job, you are doing the thing that is deeply connected to your livelihood, your fishing, because that’s what you do. You have been up since the crack of dawn, you have taken time to, so your net’s, you’ve cleaned all the things that they may have done.

Just imagine this scene and here this guy Jesus comes along and he says, “Come, follow me, and I will send you out to fish for people.” So at once did they say, “Actually I need to sleep on that and I’m going to pray on that for a little bit, Jesus and I am … Let me get some counsel on that one.” No, I love the Bible, verse 20 says, “At once they left their nets unfollowed him.” Oh, it gets better, verse 21. Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James, son of Zebedee, and his brother John.

They were in a boat with their father Zebedee preparing their nets. Jesus called them and immediately they said they needed to take a little bit more time. No, no, immediately they left the boat and their father unfollowed him. Mike drop. I mean we could just send right there. Wow. So in those experiences, here’s your alternative is you choose to put it off, there’s Grace for that. There is, the amount of times that I have been stubborn and disobedient and said, “God, I just don’t feel ready for that.”

He is such a loving Father. He sees you, he hears you. There is his transforming Grace for that, but there’s also a gift. When we are obedient, there is a greater gift. The alternative is that you experience those things and then you forget. You have these clear experiences with God or He reveals a part of Himself or a part of His heart or a part of your heart to you and you push it aside because change is hard, or you think a leap of faith like that is crazy.

I mean, look at these fishermen, that was crazy, truly. What will people think? Whatever it is for you. But let’s think about how this worked out for the Israel lights enter the dramatic music, the Israel lights. So here God parts the Red Sea for these dudes and dames, they get to the other side of the Red Sea and they have a party and the next day they’re complaining. I mean, I zipped right through that story just now, but just unpack that for yourself.

Like they have been followed by the Egyptians, they’ve been chased, they are standing at the beginning of this giant body of water. There is nowhere else to go. And God says, “Moses raise your staff.” The waters part, the winds blow the water so that it’s dry land they crossover on. So okay, just put yourself there. You’re on your camel, you’re donkey. (My donkey would have him a rhinestone collar!)

Oh, man. See, when we really get to know each other, I get silly. So you are on your donkey and you feel like your life is about to be over but God changes that, and you have a party on the other side and what do you do? Next day, you complain, you forget. Don’t we do that? I mean, it stings a little bit for me to even say that because I do that so often. Their hearts weren’t changed, they ended up complaining.

God literally drops food out of the sky, manna from heaven. They still end up complaining, God gives them water in the desert, they forget. Like me, bear lives weren’t changed by realizing the miracles for what they were, they just kept on doing life the same way they had essentially always done it.

Has that happened to you? Has proverbial manna dropped out of the sky for you at some point and you forgot it’s happened to me? When you get the gift of perspective, do something physical about it, market, so you don’t forget. When you mark the meaningful it changes your decisions. The word remember is used in the Bible like 160 something times, because it’s so easy to forget the big picture and go back to life as you’ve always done it. So when you get the gift unwrap it. I think you’re doing that right now.

If you’re still listening here, you’re doing it, you want it. So what does this look like? For me personally, writing, it allows me to reframe my view on challenges and see them as opportunities for change and to use this life like it’s the only one I’ve got, you know all those things you’ve always wanted to do. You should go do them, strike while the iron is hot. And I’ll just leave you with this question on this point, ask yourself why not now? And be willing to give an honest answer. And you know what, there are a lot of times, there’s a good reason to not do something right now.

Again, the goal is not to act on impulse, the goal is to see these clear nudges from God. And if the change you’re considering, the leap of faith you’re considering is pointed in God’s direction, make it, because your brain it’s gonna want to go back to life as per usual, it’s just where it feels most safe. Your brain and your heart are gonna want to go back to life as usual but do you want to go back to life as usual? Is that where the Lord wants you? Amen.

Number four, choose nudges. So in our last chat together, we talked about the power of nudges, these little things that we can put into our lives, very practical things, whether it’s a post it note on your desk or a photograph next to your bedside, or an open Bible, something in your life that nudges you to choose one direction or the other.

So this is the same with numbering our days, objects, that as my dear friend Marie Kondo say, “Spark joy, objects that spark joy. Momentos that bring you right back to what matters.” It’s like, when you smell something or you see something or you see someone and all of a sudden you’re right back there.

That gift of sense, memory of memory recall, you can use this intentionally to your advantage. So for me, it is Jonquil is basically a kind of Daffodil and my great, great grandmother grew them in her garden. You can read all about this in my book Cultivate. She grew them in her garden in the tiny town of Montevallo, Alabama. And when my grandfather and my grandmother Celeste got married on her front steps, she looked over and she saw the jonquils blooming and she asked one gift from her mother on her wedding day, and that was to have some of those Jonquil bulbs to plant in her own garden.

And those were since passed to my mom and passed to me. And they’re coming up in my yard right now here in Chapel Hill. For me, it’s also Cecil and Celeste Bible that I have here next to my desk that reminds me of where I’m going. It’s photographs in our kitchen, we have all a small wall next to our little breakfast table that I call our Ebeneezer wall.

In 2 Samuel, there’s a portion that talks about raising Ebenezer’s, which for them in that story were stones that God wanted them to put up to remember God’s faithfulness. For us, it’s photographs, it’s not the prettiest photographs we have, it’s not the ones that you would normally see on someone’s Instagram feed for instance. We have about eight to 10 photographs that are Ebenezer’s in our lives, it is moments we distinctly remember God’s faithfulness, pictures of the day Sarah was born, a picture of us with Sarah’s birth mom, the day of each of our children’s births and lots of memories that help us to remember where we’re going, and what matters most and to use this gift of a life well.

I have, okay, funny story. So as I was recording this episode for you, I got so moved by learning a lot of this alongside you that I thought, “Well, I’m just gonna do it right now. I’m going to stop recording this episode right now. I’m going to go do something for my kids because life is short.” And it was all motivated by my grandmother when I was growing up and I was very small, I would go visit her at her house. This is after my grandfather had passed away.

I would visit her house in Irvine, California, where she had moved and she would have this spice cake for us growing up as kids and I had these wonderful, delightful memories of my grandmother’s homemade spice cake and later in my life, housing her grandma, I have these great memories of your spice cake, every time I smell this spice blend I think of you in those delightful moments in your kitchen. And she said, “Oh, honey, that was Betty Crocker came out of a box.”

I stared at my mom I was like, “No, what?” Here I’ve had these homegrown home cooked memories. Grandma got this out of a box. So that has been passed onto our family long live the box to spice cake, except I don’t use Betty Crocker, I love this brand called Simple Mills, because my son has some little food allergy things. And so I just bakes them just a couple minutes ago, I put it in the oven, the Simple Mills boxed spice cake. And it’s those things that remind me of their marriage and my grandfather’s humble faith and my grandmother’s roses.

Now, it’s not about the quantity of nudges in your life, it’s not about having many photographs on your wall, or many mementos on your bookshelf or objects all over your house, it’s not about the quantity of these nudges that bring you right back to what matters. It’s about the quality and it could just be one. So what does it for you? Maybe you already have these things in your life and you just need to bring them out into the open more.

Maybe they’re tucked away in a box, these mementos or objects or photographs or words, whatever it is for you that reminds you, life is short and it’s a gift, I want to use it well. Number five, set your sights on the big picture and act like it today. A few practical things for you. Number one is you got to set goals. If you want to stay focused on the big picture and take intentional small steps to get their goals, that’s what goals are. Whatever you call them, it could be intentions, you call them goals, resolutions, whatever. It is what it is, it is looking ahead at the future and planning to use your life and your time and your resources intentionally for a specific purpose.

Now, the alternative is aimlessly doing life, letting life happen to you. So go and listen to episode three of the podcast and learn about how to set cultivated goals and how to follow through on them. Goals that help you look at your big picture of where you want to be when you’re 80 or 90 or 104 as per my life expectancy test. Where you want to be in the big picture and how you can start acting like it today.

Also, I encourage you to do my five-day free Bible study plan on the YouVersion Bible app. Go to bible.com and look up God and goals, and that will give you lots of biblical insight on what the Lord says in his word about planning and forethought and being intentional with our lives.

Another practical way to think about this is to do a little time travel. Yes, you heard me think back to the future except for in your brain. If you were to imagine yourself five to 10 years from now, having made what matters happen, just stop right now, stop wherever you are and let yourself your mind go there.

Imagine yourself five to 10 years from now having made whenever it is in your mind made the things that really matter happen. Imagine all the leaps of faith that it took to get there to that place, five, 10 years from now. Imagine the choices you had to make, the yeses you had to say, and the no’s you had to say.

Imagine the difficult decisions and the triumphs and the imperfect progress along the way because it’s always going to be imperfect on the path to purpose. Imagine it and then imagine today. If that’s where you want to be five, 10 years from now, maybe that’s easier for you to think of them when you’re 80 or 90 or whatever your proposed life expectancy is.

If that’s easier for you to think of thing about just five to 10 years from now, do a little time travel and visualize yourself in your mind, what would you change about today considering that big picture of what would you change about today? Number six, plan your year in just a couple of weeks.

You and I are going to have an in depth chat on practical ways to plan a year with intention, but here are just a few things that I want you to start thinking about now in preparation for our time together. If you don’t plan for it, your year’s gone plan you. Have you ever experienced that before? You look at your schedule and you think, “I don’t even think I got a word in here.” It just filled up and then you wake up like we’ve talked about you wake up one day and you think, “Where did the time go? I just can’t even edge in the things that really mattered to me.”

Numbering our days gives us the gift of perspective on where to invest our time and for me doing this episode, having this chat with you, it made me realize that, “All right, my time is short with my parents, so I’m going to invest most of our time off this year in spending it with the grandparents, and having the grandkids spend time with their grandparents.”

I will Lord willing, Lord willing, I will hopefully have plenty of other time with our family to do other types of trips in the future or a day trip here and there. But right now, I see so much more of the importance of spending time with the grandparents. It’s like a budget, you have a budget where you are choosing different categories, different buckets in which to invest the money that you’ve been given, the resources that you have. And our year is the same thing. If you look at the calendar, that is your time budget.

Now, let me just pause, because this is a place we get really hung up on as believers. We think, “Ah, no, I shouldn’t plan anything because what if I overstepped God’s will?” I don’t want to overstep God’s will and/or we think, “I don’t want to plan anything because what if it doesn’t turn out that way? What if things don’t go my way? What if life takes a turn and I experienced rejection or failure or things just don’t go the way that I had hoped and I feel disappointed about that.”

Here’s my question for you, what if you just keep going through the motions? You know that that’s not going to be stewarding well what God has given you, we know that. And it’s like the parable of the talents where the one dude is giving money and he essentially sits on it, he does nothing with it. It’s like our lives when we don’t plan, we plan to fail. When we don’t plan our year plans us. And yes, the Lord wants you to listen along the way and walk with him and he will guide your steps.

So take what he’s given you, implant it, do something with it. So my simple tip for you is to look ahead at your calendar and plan for what matters, so that your year doesn’t plan you. That could be something as simple as looking ahead six months from now and requesting a single day off in the vacation days that maybe you never use, requesting a day off, just to sit on the floor and play legos with your kids. That would be worth it, right?

Maybe it’s looking ahead at a season on your calendar that you know it’s going to be more busy than others, maybe it’s the holiday season or a season where you’ve got lots of birthdays or travel or whatever it is. Look ahead at a season and plan for rest or something as simple as looking ahead at next month’s birthdays that are on the calendar and go ahead and pre-stamp some envelopes and write their addresses on the envelopes.

You don’t even have to write the card yet, but just do the things that typically are barriers to you following through like the address and the stamp on the envelope. Do those things because when we number our days, we gained the heart of wisdom that helps us to love God and love other people because God loves us.

So how do birthday cards add up to an intentional life? I’ll ask you this. How would you feel when you do those things? Whatever they are for you, think about this, that just this calendar year 2019 and imagine yourself on December 31st looking back at the year you just lived and imagine yourself having lived a year of meaning and intention. And that does not mean it’s going to be a perfect year, but it doesn’t have to be perfect to be meaningful. Imagine it. How are you going to feel after you send those birthday cards? How are you going to feel after you take that day off? How are you going to feel after you comb through your calendar and use the gift of intentional forethought?

Because a little intentional forethought goes a whole long way. For instance, I can’t tell you how many years in a row Ari and I have done nothing for Valentine’s Day because first of all, things are just too expensive. I just can’t stomach the thought of going out to eat sometimes on Valentine’s Day because it’s too expensive, but we have just not done anything because of that. And that is one of those days that starts to feel like every other day, and that’s depressing. I don’t want my days to feel the same, and I know that Lord doesn’t want them to feel the same either.

He wants days that are set apart, that feel different, that allow us to see life in a whole new light. So now we plan for Valentine’s Day in January, like beginning of January. In fact, we talked about it at the end of December, because I have used the gift of intentional forethought and I have a recurring reminder on my little to-do-list app that pops up at the end of December of the previous year to say, “Hey, make a plan for Valentine’s Day. Don’t forget,” it’s these tiny little things that help us to live this life like it’s the only one we’ve got.”

Because for me celebrating Valentine’s Day, even though it’s just a day, but taking the opportunity to celebrate my marriage that matters. And what are we ended up having a candle at dinner in our kitchen after the kids go to bed, or we are first in line at Chick-fil-A with our fancy beds on, whatever it is. The most important thing is that we are taking time intentionally, numbering that day as a day we’re celebrating God’s faithfulness because you know what that does, it fuels us. When we celebrate his faithfulness and we stop, it fuels us to keep going, to keep telling the stories written in our lives, to love our children well by doubling down on our marriage it matters.

Okay, so much more, so very much more is coming in two weeks in the episode about how to plan your year, we’re going to have so much fun with that. If you feel like you’re not a person who likes to plan or organize, you’re going to flip that script, my friend, you’re going to become a planner, organizer, all the things. And this is going to be really fun. So more to come on them.

So we have run our numbers, we have done a little life audit, we have talked about how to make change while you can, and we have also implemented a few nudges to remind us of what matters most. We’ve set our sights on the big picture and we’ve talked about how to plan our year, which again, we’re going to talk so much more about coming up now. Now, how do you avoid failure with all this? How do you avoid getting to those points where you feel like, “Ah, I’m here again. Time flies. I don’t know where the day went, but it went,” how do you avoid that?

Here are a few ways that I avoid failure and you can too, number one, name the things that distract you from really living. What are the things that make you compare your life to somebody else’s perhaps? I was just having a conversation with a friend yesterday about how when I graduated from college, I didn’t really compare myself to other people or what they were doing because there was no social media. It didn’t exist.

Facebook wasn’t even a thing, it just wasn’t around. So I didn’t have this constant bombardment of, “Oh, that Gal I graduated from college. Well, she’s doing this now and he’s doing this big thing and she’s doing this big thing.” I didn’t have any of that, and I was just talking to my friend who said that, “That is just constantly flooding her heart of, oh, all these people are doing these “big things”. It leaves me with this questioning, this dissatisfaction for my own life.”

So name it, maybe it’s social media for you, maybe it is, who knows, just name what is it specifically that is distracting you from really living? And I encourage you to draw a line in the sand. If that thing, whatever it is, is causing you to not live your own life with joy and intention and a razor sharp focus on numbering your own days, right where you are with what you have.

Cut it off, let go of it, even if it’s just for a season to gain some perspective. What are you constantly distracted by? Number two, what are you always saying that you don’t have time for? Okay, buckle your seat belts, friends. How much time are you spending on Facebook and Instagram or whatever it is?

I know, I know, you’re like, “Lara, come on!” Sometimes our numbers are really high, right? And that’s a sobering fact when we consider the feelings of going through the motions or feeling like we don’t have time for the good stuff, we really do have to take a hard and fast look at, “What are we spending our time on?” So number one name what distracts you from really living and consider turning down the volume on that thing? And number two, name the thing that you are constantly saying to yourself, “I don’t have time for that thing.” And then ask yourself, how much time are you spending on Facebook or Instagram or whatever it is?

And perhaps there is room for you to exchange some of that time because even five minutes a day for me, I always think about FaceTime with my kids, it’s not FaceTime like FaceTime on the phone, but actual face-to-face time with my kids. And that’s why I frequently take big breaks from social media. Social media is a great tool to use when used well, but it can be a huge distraction. And when I feel like it’s becoming a distraction, I feel like it’s making me numb out and not use my days on purpose, and it’s making me feel like every day is the same, and it’s making me compare my life to other people’s. I just cut it off, I take a break for like a week or two weeks or whatever God wants me to do.

And it helps me to remember whose voice I should be listening to and how to use my days well? Because it’s really easy to forget, right? It’s really easy to just get sucked into all the things that don’t matter, just because everybody else is doing it. We’re not going to do that though, you are not going to do that because your priority in life matters.

So let’s get them straight with live them fiercely and ferociously, and I mean this is an area also that means that we have to say no to even good things. I frequently get asked to go to coffee, which is a lovely thing I love, love, love, love, connecting with people that truly lights my heart on fire. And it’s always such a great opportunity to hear someone’s heart and to hopefully help and speak life into people, and also for them to do the same to me.

But in this season of my life, I know in numbering my days that right now the Lord wants me razor sharp focused on my kids and that’s not a hard and fast rule. If he wants me to go on a coffee date, amen, I will go. But I generally have to say no and just to draw a line in the sand and say, “I actually don’t have time in a good way. I don’t have time for coffee dates in this season, because I’m choosing to spend the time the Lord has given me on cultivating the hearts on the faith of my kids, being here for my husband and whatever else he wants me to do.”

I also do not have time, it’s a totally different subject. I love time for Facebook messages, so I just don’t answer them. I just have to choose not to answer them and draw that line in the sand, it’s not an optimal way for me to communicate with people to get lost in the sea of Facebook. So apologies if you have sent me a Facebook message anytime in my life, there’s probably 50,000 of them in there and email me instead.

I can better serve you and love you through the one inbox that I have, not Facebook messages. Okay, another way to avoid failure is simple and profound and the most important thing, it’s come back to the Bible. Always come back to the Bible and to God’s truth about eternity. This whole time, you know, I’ve been talking about how life is short, and it’s true life here with these particular people at this particular time. It’s not going to last forever, it’s fleeting, it passes away.

But we get the thrill of hope and that hope is eternity with Jesus. Ecclesiastes 3:11 talks about how God has written eternity on our hearts, it’s in us, it’s just like I shared with you in the beginning of our chat together about when you look at a sunset, you know that, that feeling you get of all of just, “Whoosh, God is real and he is forever.” That is the longing for eternity, I just love that. You know, he could’ve made sunsets happen every five years, but he gives it to us every day, every day sun goes up, sun goes down. We’re witnessing miracles outside miracles, every day of light coming into the darkness.

God beckons us to remember the truth that we are his, and while our lives here on this earth won’t last forever, we will spend the eternity with the Lord. And the Lord even had the Israelites celebrate very specific festivals to just for fun. Just know it wasn’t just for fun. He didn’t just say, “Hey Israelites, you need more fun in your lives, you should celebrate these appointed festivals.” Just because everybody needs a little more fun in their lives. No, he wanted them to celebrate these festivals every year to remember who they were and who God was to them and where they were going.

So when you get stuck, always come back to the word and he’ll help you to number your days. Another way that I avoid failure, this is going to sound so simple and it’s so practical, but as I’ve told you in a couple previous episodes, I’ve been using my right, the word journal at night and it’s very life-giving to get into the Bible, I love that part. But there’s one thing you might miss as a life-giving activity in writing the word or in journaling or anything you do on paper, is writing the date. Have you ever felt that way? and in our day and age, writing checks is kind of an antiquated thing, right?

Like maybe you’re someone that you write a check every once a month or two or three times a month or maybe once a quarter or whatever it is. It used to be that we wrote checks for everything. So it used to be that we would write the date on things constantly, and my teacher friends, I know you feel this, you’re constantly writing dates and looking at date, so you have that this beautiful advantage.

But we don’t usually have the opportunity to literally number our days, by writing the date. It is such a simple thing. But there have been times when I haven’t written a check for a while because we have things, you electronic, especially for the business, a lot of stuff is electronic and I will have to write a check for something. And I will stop when I write the date now and be like, “Whoa!” I’ve caught myself saying it so many times, “Wow. I can’t believe it’s February 18th already. Whoa! I can’t believe it’s already June.” Have you felt that? Have you done that before?

Let’s use this to our advantage, whether it is using the right word journal to highly recommend, or using a journal or simply getting out your calendar and putting a sticker on it for everyday, literally numbering your days helps you to use them well, helps you to know that they are in fact passing. And so let’s harness some, let’s grab them, I remember seeing a sign at a gas station recently that said, “Don’t count the days, make the days count.”

And I thought, “Oh yeah, that’s good. I should Instagram that.” No, there’s actually a deeper truth to that, count the days and make the days count. Number your days and live them well. A friend of mine has a jar of marbles and he tells a story about his wife giving him this jar and it has like, I dunno, hundreds of marbles in it. One for every week that he is expected to live again, the Lord only knows how many days we have, but just based on average life expectancy, this is a jar full of marbles, one for every week that he is expected to live.

And every week he sits down with that jar and he takes on the end of Sunday night, he takes out one of the marbles and he moves it to a different jar. And as he’s transferring that over, he thinks to himself, “Did I use this time well? How can I use it better in the week ahead?” Isn’t that cool? I just think that’s so cool to look at these opportunities. Just a little marble in your hand as a reminder of, “Yup, this life isn’t forever, but I am going to choose to use it well.”

We often hear the phrase carpe diem, seize the day in Latin. And so I went and I looked this up because I just had this hunch that the origin of the phrase carpe diem was a little bit off from what the Bible tells us. So carpe diem means to seize the day, but put very little trust in tomorrow or the future. We know a deeper truth, don’t we? We can trust in an unknown future because we have a very known God. God is the future and you’re going to make the most of that truth today.

And that does not mean that you have to do it perfectly, let’s just take the pressure out. That’s what Grace is. God literally gave us Jesus because he knew we weren’t gonna be perfect, but he is. His transforming Grace says, “I know that you’re not going to live your life perfectly. I know that you’re not going to make the most of all of your days. I know that. I know that. That’s why I’m here walking with you. I’m here to help you to make the most of it and most of all, it’s not that I need you to number your days. I need you. I need your heart because it’s easy to miss the second part of that verse,” teach us to number our days so that we may gain a, a what? A heart of wisdom. The Bible tells us that wisdom, true wisdom comes from God himself.

So to number our days means to walk on the pathway to home to him. If you don’t number your days, you may constantly wonder where the time has gone, you’ll blink and another year will have passed. Your days may all feel the same, you may fear that you’re not really living, but here’s the real good news. If you are listening to this, you are alive and it’s not too late. You can start now. Let me tell you about my dad. When Ari became a believer and if you want that whole story, read my book, make it happen or go back to the very first episode of the podcast.

And when Ari became a believer, my dad was blown away. So my dad was 77 years old at the time, and he would often call me and ask how … like so many faith questions started coming up for him, and my dad is not a man of many emotions or at least at the time he wasn’t, he wasn’t someone that was vulnerable or would share his heart or ask these deep questions about the meaning of life and faith. And he started to have phone calls with Ari. Late at night after the two of them got home from work, I remember Ari would sit in our closet, and he would talk to my dad about faith and it’s just amazing to think back on.

Ari baptize my dad at the age of 77, sitting in that church and watching my dad be totally immersed in the waters of baptism and share his faith doesn’t stop there, friends, doesn’t stop there. After that, and he started to really study the word, he took this trip to California. So my dad, he had been divorced when he was a lot younger after the Vietnam War. He had gone through a really painful divorce where he had left his wife and their two children essentially and felt so, so much shame and guilt, so many things in that.

And he really carried that with him his whole life, until the age of 77, he flew across the country to California to be with my sister, Cathy I love you. And he flew all the way over there, this feeble old man, dad I love you too. And he apologized and tried to reconcile that relationship. And let me tell you, that doesn’t happen with a God that’s not real, just doesn’t happen. Because of that, Cathy and I are now super close and my dad is a totally different person.

So I’m here to tell you, it is never too late, there is a mess you’ve made that God can’t make into something marvelous. It’s never too late to use this gift of a life on purpose, no matter how much you’ve messed up in the past or how much you mess up in the future. You don’t have to do it perfectly and I am speaking from someone who has struggled so much with control, feeling like, “Yes, I do have to do it perfectly.” And all of the enneagram ones in the house said, “Amen.” So my father-in-law gave me some really good advice and I want to share it with you.

When I was writing my first book, Make It Happen, I was feeling that, I was feeling like, “Oh, this is so important. I have to do this so well.” We can go to another extreme with numbering our days, and that is trying too hard to plan them perfectly, make them perfect, get the most out of them. The numbering of the days becomes an idol, if you will. So he said to me, as I was writing, I was telling him about this pressure I was feeling and he said, “Don’t make this the important thing you ever do.” Ah, that advice has helped me to move through the last five years in my life with so much freedom, don’t make this the most important thing you ever do.

The most important thing you’ll ever do is turn your heart over to the Lord in the little things and in the big things. And I know now that my worth is not about what I do or how well I do it or who I am, it’s 100% about whose I am. Well, we have had quite the journey together today, this episode with you took me a good month to record because it kept working on my own heart, it kept changing me in the process, and my prayer is that you will slowly work through the things we have chatted about, and then just take them by the horns. You use this gift of a life well, but where do you start? We’ve talked about a lot today, where do you start?

You start where all good things to begin, with one tiny steps. So do this. Just get out a piece of paper, a back of a receipt whatever you got and write down just one experience that you had that gave you a burst of clarity about what matters and what doesn’t. What was that experience for you? I know you can hear him, but my kid has their outside my office window right now, poking around in the dirt, digging around climbing trees. They’re so cute.

And just made me realize that the place where I have learned to number my days the most is out in the garden, south side, because when we plant seeds, for instance, we go out there every day, multiple times a day sometimes. And we learn to notice, we learn to tend little by little and go out there and notice the sprouts and notice when leaves unfurl and notice when a stock starts to grow. And it is a magical experience if you’ve never planted seed, even if you have no garden, just put a seed in a pot by a bright window sill and just grow something because it will reveal to you a piece of God’s heart.

In the garden, I learned to number of my days and love them, I learned to notice what changes, I learned to tend to what matters little by little. And I don’t have to be perfect at it, there are many days I forget to water and weed and you know what, but garden’s still grows and I learned to celebrate out there. I learned to savor what’s growing, and it seems as if time slows down. There’s a quote I love that says, “We come from the earth, we return to the earth, and in between we garden.” Friends, we know the end of this story and it’s a really good one.

You see why this has taken me three weeks to record? Oh my goodness. You know where my tears were coming from though, it’s not tears of sorrow, it’s not tears of sadness, it’s tears of complete awe that this is not the end of the story. This life isn’t it? We have the hope of heaven and he is little by little, day by day, helping us to come home.

And now I’m going to go outside and run around in the dirt with my kiddos, till then my friends, I’m so excited for our next episode where we’ll go into the garden together and also learn how to plan out our year in episode after that. So stay tuned for some really good stuff. Ooh, it’s going to be good. Speaking of good, you are awesome. I’m just blown away by how the Lord is using what we’re doing here together to encourage women all over the world.

So thank you so much for leaving a review for sharing this with your friends, and if you have enjoyed this episode of the podcast I’d be so grateful, if he were to leave a five star review on iTunes so that this can get into the hands of women who really need this encouragement. Numbering our days is so much more fun when we do it together and thank you to my friend who said that listening to the podcast is like sitting on the porch swing and having a conversation with your best friend.

If you were here, I would be sure to offer you some tea. He comes into my front porch and watch kids digging my flower beds. But truly you all are incredible women, I’m just very grateful for all your support of this show. I pour my heart and my soul into it and you do too. So thank you so much for doing this alongside me. And you can find all the show notes for this episode and many more at cultivateyourlife.com and now is the part of the show where the Isaacson’s jam it out.

Yeah. You get a jelly bean.

You get a jelly bean too.

jelly bean?

Yeah, you get a jelly bean too.

(singing)

Josh is singing like another version of the song behind me. What version are you singing?

(singing)

This is the Isaacson above fly away. Number one on radio stations everywhere.

(singing)

And that’s a rap.

I love jelly bean.