Episode 023 of the Cultivate Your Life Podcast was released on July 31st, 2019. Listen here!

Lara: Have you ever made really good plans, done everything the way you thought you were supposed to do it, and you got your hopes up and you thought, “Man, this is totally going to happen. I’ve done everything right I think.” Yet, your plans don’t go as planned. I’m laughing because I sure have experienced that. Today, you and I are going to have a lot of fun together digging into that feeling of frustration that things didn’t go the way you hoped they would go. We’re going to move through that and find freedom. Let’s chat.

Lara: 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.

Lara: Welcome, welcome, to this new episode of, The Cultivate Your Life podcast. I did not think that you and I would be having this conversation today. I didn’t. Just know that the title of this episode is from my personal experience, and I have a feeling from yours too.

Lara: We make really good plans in our life. Maybe there’s something that you just sunk your teeth into, you got all your ducks in a row, you thought you had it all put together, and you expected a specific outcome. And, it just didn’t happen, just didn’t go as planned.

Ivori L.: Hi, Lara. This is Ivori Lipscomb-Warren, mindset and fertility coach, and business strategist. What hasn’t gone right is the IVF journey that I am on. I thought that I would have been pregnant and have a baby by now. The cycle that I just completed earlier this month, I called it a disappointment, but it’s not. It’s a setback. It’s teaching me that I’m not in control. It’s teaching me that it’s okay to wait and to be still.

Jennifer: My name is Jennifer and I’m from southwestern Michigan. Things didn’t go according to plan when my office was merging with another office, and my future job along with it. But, I am trying to remain hopeful and lean on God for I know he has the perfect plan, even if I can’t quite see it yet.

Sarah O.: Hi. My name is Sarah, and one time I had planned a full day of food and coffee for our whole family for a vacation, and every place we stopped was either closed, or the coffee was just awful, or it smelled terrible in the restaurant. Every single time we went to a new place to try to get food or coffee, it was just awful.

Sam: Hi. My name is Sam. I planned for a beautiful ranunculus container garden. I planted the ranunculus corms, and a few weeks later a bunch of weeds only grew from the ranunculus corms. I was really frustrated, but I had the most beautiful weeds you’ve ever seen.

Lara: What do we do when we experience disappointment, or rejection, or failure, or coming up against something where you think, “Well that wasn’t what I thought it was going to be.” What do you do? How do you move past that frustration, and feel free, and feel able to actually enjoy where you are despite things not going like you thought, how do you do that? How do you move forward? Today, I’m going to give you three super simple steps to take, very simple, easy things when you’re feeling this. Really, we feel this probably every day in some ways, right? This is going to help you every single day, to take what you’ve been given, and use it no matter what happens, right where you are.

Lara: Let me tell you a story about a time that my plans didn’t go as planned. This story is one I’m right in the middle of, but I’m going to let you in today, on something unexpected. This is our seventh year of having a garden. You and I have chatted a whole lot about how I am a very unlikely gardener, and yet somehow I have found myself by the grace of God, with a very large garden plot on the side of our little suburban house. I’ve got about 40 feet of raised garden space, and every year I love growing so many things with the kiddos. We grow so many zinnias, and we really grow them not just for beauty, but for the experiences that we have out here. Of sitting by our window, or being outside. Watching the gold finches, and the butterflies, and the bees. It’s just a magical place to be, surrounded by flowers.

Lara: We grow fruit, and vegetables, and flowers, and so many things. Every year what we do right around December and January is, those seed catalogs start rolling in, and it is so fun. Because, here we are in the middle of this bleak season where you look outside, and things are kind of frozen. Yet, you get these seed catalogs in the mail, and it’s like holding possibility. We start to dream as a family. I sit down with the kids, and we break out some scrap paper, and we start just making lists of all the things we could possibly ever want to grow out in our garden.

Lara: As you know from the podcast, we did that this year. We had so much fun planning the garden, and planting our seeds. The best part is, when those seeds sprouted. It’s just too cool. It really never ceases to amaze me, the miracle of a seed. I mean, if you’ve ever held a seed, and if you haven’t, even if you don’t plan on planting it, go get yourself some seeds. Because, it’s going to amaze you that, out of this dry little fleck of what looks like a piece of mulch or dirt, marvelous things grow. I know, so many garden metaphors come to mind here, about how all good things come from small things, and it’s just like our lives. I really like that. I think you do too, we like transformation, we like seeing something grow out of nothing, right?

Lara: We made our plans, we sat out on the back deck, we pulled out all the seed packets from the bottom drawer of our refrigerator where we keep all the seeds. Some people keep potatoes, we keep seeds. I sat out on the back deck with Sarah, and with Grace, and we sketched out the garden. I think Josh was off digging in the dirt, and getting us ready. We planted our seeds, and the seeds sprouted, and it was marvelous. The seeds that made me extra excited were things like our giant pumpkin that we planted again, and it just, it doesn’t really sprout out of the ground, a giant pumpkin seed. It more like unleashes itself out of the earth. It is other worldly to watch this giant leaf just kind of, just unfurl out of the ground.

Lara: And, our garden patch, all that brown dirt started to be dotted with tiny spring green spots, so exciting. Then, something strange happened. They stopped, they just stopped growing. The pumpkin, it stayed at about five inches tall, for weeks. The zinnias got to be about an inch and a half, and that was it. I kept repeating to myself all the things that you and I talk about together, it’s okay to grow slow, and little by little progress, and good things grow overtime instead of overnight, and yet they just weren’t growing at all, even slowly.

Lara: I started to wonder, “What’s going on here? What did I do wrong?” Don’t we do that in those situations? When our plans don’t go as planned we think to ourselves, “What did I do wrong here?” We might try hard to fix it, I’m just speaking from personal experience here, try harder to fix it. Try to do something about it, and then we get this feeling of defeat, and of guilt, like we messed something up.

Lara: There have been so many things like that in my life, in motherhood, in marriage, in parenting, at work, where things didn’t go the way that I had hoped they would go, and I started to blame myself. Or, I try to find some other source to blame, and the blame game just kind of goes back and forth like on a ping pong table. Have you been there before?

Lara: Now for me, this was not just about plants that were seeming to have a hard time doing the thing they’re supposed to do, which is grow. This wasn’t just about plants, it was about purpose. Every year we come out here, and God grows us. More than us growing things, God grows us, and our hearts, and our souls. We have these memories made out in the dirt, and undistracted from the rest of the world. We get to get our hands dirty, we get to savor life, we get to smell things, and taste things, and see things, and really worship in the garden.

Lara: I know, that might sound like a big heady religious term, but it’s true. We walk out there and I think, “Whoa. There’s no other way that, that color of that zinnia, that yellow, could come from anything else but you, Lord. Thank you so much for that.” It just turns into a big old praise party, out here with the plants.

Lara: As things continued to not grow, that sounds like such an oxymoron. They continued to not grow, I started to feel sadness. I thought, “Well …” I didn’t like entertaining this thought, just like we don’t like entertaining thoughts of anything in our life that seems to not be going the way we hoped it would. I thought, “What if there are no zinnias to pick and share with our friends here in the neighborhood, and people that really need some encouragement? What if there are no gold finches and butterflies to marvel at this year with my sweet kids?” I felt sad thinking about so many things that we would miss, and that we loved every year as a family.

Lara: Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Okay, but Lara, tell us. Why? Why did this happen? What is going on in your garden?” I can give you all the scientific reasons as to why this happened. If you remember from a few episodes ago we had a chat about how I planted the garden seemingly a little late this year, and there were really good reasons for that. So many things that were more of a focus for us this year, and it just didn’t happen in the timing that I wanted it to happen. Yet, I planted it anyway, knowing that there was still plenty of time for good things to grow, which is true.

Lara: This year, I decided that it would be wise for us to refresh our soil. We’ve had this soil out here for seven years, and there were some problems with the soil. We had a whole lot of squash bugs last year. When you plant a giant pumpkin, bugs take notice. It’s a really long story, but you can’t plant another pumpkin in the same spot, because the squash bugs are going to come back. We had various other challenges with the soil so I thought, “Okay, for Mother’s Day this year, I’m going to ask for dirt.” And yes, I did. The soil shows up, and again, I can give you all the scientific reasons as to why things did not go the way I planned. I did not plan for instead of a truck full of soil to show up, it was a truck full of manure. Yep, cow poop. Our sweet landscape friend said that there was no top soil available, so he just had to bring me a truckload of poop. Y’all, it was not funny at the time, but it’s pretty funny thinking back about it.

Lara: Ari and I thought to ourselves, “Okay, well we’re going to make this poop work.” And you know it, truly, manure is a wonderful additive to soil, mushroom compost is such a great thing to add to your soil, it’s not a good soil though. It has too much salt in it, and it’s something that will burn seedlings, and not make them grow. We decided that we’re just going to do our best with what we have here. We put all that soil into the beds, and we added in top soil that we could find from other places.

Lara: Apparently it just wasn’t enough. Again, I can give you all the scientific reasons as to why this happened. It’s certainly something we can fix next year. But, every time I would go outside and longingly look at the seedlings, hoping that they decided overnight to just keep on growing the way they’re supposed to, I would feel that sadness. I would come back inside, and I would be on the verge of a complaint and I would say, “Ugh, Ari, I’m so sad about this. I don’t know what to do. I worked so hard to plant all this, and we had such great plans. Grace was going to have this wonderful structure with these beautiful love in a puff vines climbing up,” and I had all these ideas about all the plans in my mind of experiences, really good things, simple things that we wanted to have happen.

Lara: You know what he would say to me? “Lara, I think this is God giving you a year of rest.” Boom. Over and over. I’d go outside, I’d come back in, I’d shared my sadness, and he says, “Lara, when is it going to sink in? God is giving you a year of rest.” I knew he was right, but I still, again, stubborn, didn’t want that to sink in. What I wanted to sink in was the roots of the plants to make flowers. I kept thinking, “Our business is called Cultivate What Matters. We cultivate, we grow things, how does this fit in to this picture?”

Lara: Maybe you’re there right now, feeling the frustration of why is this not going the way that it seems like it should? You think, “Okay, I’ve got all these puzzle pieces laid out right in front of me, and I just found that one missing puzzle piece.” You know that feeling? Maybe it’s just in my house, where you finally find that puzzle piece that’s stuck in the toaster, or yep, trust story. Or, underneath a couch pillow and you’re like, “Ah, I finally found the piece.” Then I rush over to the puzzle, and I try to put it in, and oh wait a minute, this is to a totally different puzzle. I thought I found the missing piece of the puzzle, and it is not the one. It’s actually from a totally different puzzle, because that’s the way we roll in my house.

Lara: Can you relate to that? Okay, you get what I’m saying, right? That feeling of, “I thought I just found the answer. This makes sense, that life should work out the way that I have it in my mind. But, it’s not working out that way, and I’m feeling very frustrated by that.”

Lara: I sit here with you right now and the tears are welling up in my eyes because I feel so loved. I did not feel very loved in the midst of it, and I realized this is such a trivial thing. A small thing like a garden, but it reminded me of so many times when far more significant disappointments happened in my life, and how good things grew out of hard things. From miscarriage, to my marriage almost falling apart years ago, to so many challenges over, and over in our family, in our work, in our lives, in my soul. All of these things, literally every single one of these things. Would I ever want to go back and do them again? No. But, they grew me. They grew me.

Lara: Okay, but back to what I was feeling before, for just a minute. Again, I could give you so many scientific reasons for why all this happened. I knew what was wrong, but what if this was actually all right, exactly what was supposed to happen? What if there was something else he wanted to grow, instead of what we had planted? Sometimes we make plans, and we do everything right, and God still says, “I have something better.” I kept feeling him say to me, “Just wait for it. Wait for it.” Kind of like you say to someone when you’re about to surprise them like, “Wait for it, wait for it.” Well, I was already seeing it.

Lara: I started to notice other things around my hard. I kind of had horse blinders on every time I would walk by our regular garden patches, because I just didn’t want to face it at the time. Something in that time of horse blinders on, led me to look around myself. Over in the corner by our garbage can, I saw a volunteer zinnia. Now, a volunteer zinnia is a seed that was probably planted by one of the gold finches, or a sparrow, or a bird, or a squirrel, whoever, carried that from the garden last year, and then just dropped it somewhere. And, God planted it, and out springs this beautiful pink frilly layered, I mean it’s almost like the prettiest fluttery dress you could ever seen in flower form, over in a forgotten corner by our garbage can.

Lara: I started to notice other things. A volunteer tomato plant that was sitting underneath a tree. I saw gold finches one morning, on a hyssop bush in the middle of our median, and I saw bumble bees on a lavender bush out in the front yard. The other thing was, I wasn’t spending near the same amount of time out in the garden as before, pulling weeds, or giving our giant pumpkin protein shakes, or doing all the things I normally do. Instead, I had open space and time for something new.

Lara: I didn’t know what that was though, and I think that was the most frustrating part. I don’t know if you’ve ever felt that way, but when something doesn’t go the way you had hoped, and then you’re on some brand new path. You’re like, “Okay, well that didn’t go the way I thought it would go, but what’s next? What am I supposed to focus on, what am I supposed to do with all this open time? What good is coming from this? God, just tell me the end of the story, wrap this up in a bow so that I can feel more secure knowing.” That’s the thing, you can always trust an unknown future to a very real, known, and present God. I really didn’t like that thought when I was in the middle of it. I wanted to know. We think we want certainty, but what’s so much sweeter is just having him.

Lara: I’m still in the middle of all this, and there have been a few extra blunders besides stunted seeds along the way. Let’s talk about squirrels. Dun-dun-dun. Let’s talk about it. Last year we had a bumper crop on our peach tree, we had over 100 peaches. It was completely amazing, and this year I was looking forward to that again. The peach buds started to form together, and started to turn pink, and then I walked outside one morning and there were mashed peaches all around the tree. I thought, “What in the world is coming and eating all of these peaches?” I was devastated. I was like, “Oh no. Oh no, Nutty the squirrel, you ain’t going to win this year.”

Lara: It kept happening over and over, to the tune of 50 peaches that had been taken off the tree in a weeks time. I’m thinking to myself, “That’s just two squirrels that live in that tree. Either they’re having all their friends over, or they’re going to be real fat for the winter.” I started to imagine all these scenarios in my mind of the squirrels laughing at us. I’m telling you guys, I could write a children’s book about squirrels. But, we did all these natural preventative measures to try to get the squirrels away from the tree. We took Hooty the owl. If you’ve read my book, Cultivate, you know all about Hooty. Hooty is our plastic guard owl, who is completely ineffective. We stuck Hooty in front of the tree, and the next morning I came back, and Hooty was laying on his side. I’m telling you, those squirrels, I just can hear their voices now saying, “Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha.”

Lara: Then, we tried to put one of those wonderful nets over the tree, like you see lots of organic farmers do. We put the net over the tree. Those crafty squirrels ate peaches through the net. Through the net. I don’t mean like they chewed holes in the net, they somehow got their little hands in there, and their claws, and they grabbed onto the peach, and they just ate it through the net. Nothing was working.

Lara: Now, the squirrels weren’t the only creatures that were laughing at me. My dear husband Ari, would also over and over say to me, “Lara, don’t you know, can’t you see it by now? God is trying to get you to rest, and just let go.”

Lara: I’m going to tell you the rest of that story in just a moment, but first let’s talk through three super simple things that you can do, even in daily life, to accept defeat, and use it as your fuel. Because, failure, it’s not final. Failure’s just not an opportunity to walk in a different direction, and open a totally different door. Number one, just simply acknowledge where you are. It’s okay to feel things, it’s okay to be sad about a garden that’s not growing, or a relationship, or a job, or a transition, or whatever it is in your life. It’s okay to have feelings.

Lara: Acknowledge where you are, and express where you wanted to be. It’s okay to feel frustrated, it’s okay to feel like there’s a great divide and distance between where you are right now, and where you had hoped to be. I know from going through loss, and going through so many various challenges, especially in motherhood and in marriage, that if we don’t acknowledge those things, and speak them for what they are, and either acknowledge them by writing them down on paper, or working with a professional counselor, or talking them out on the couch with a friend, or praying it out in your closet. Whatever it is, just acknowledging those things, just laying out what’s actually there helps you to move through it.

Lara: Number two, make more of what is working in the wait. For me, I had to fight for it. I had to fight for gratitude, and fight for hope in times of turmoil. I just keep going back to that season of miscarriage, and feeling like, “You know what? I don’t want to dream again, because what if it doesn’t go my way again? What if I’m back here at the same spot? I don’t want to hope again, I don’t want to crawl out of this hole.” I had to give myself time to grieve. In that time, little by little, in the right timing, slowly but surely, I was able to start cultivating gratitude.

Lara: I know, if someone would have told me that in that particular season I would have been like, “That is not going to help me.” My heart felt so heavy, so I don’t know where this conversation meets you. I don’t know what it is in your life that you feel disappointed by, but I do know that there is power in words. Power in words that are spoken over those difficult, uncertain, challenging seasons. Sometimes we have to do it for ourselves. We have to speak truth of ourselves to say, “You know what? I am going to get through this. I don’t feel it right now, but I am going to get through this.” In the moments when you feel despair just say, “You know what? I was given a life for a purpose.” In those moments where you feel like there’s so much unknown in front of you to say, “I know that there is a very known God. I have no idea what’s going to be next in my life, but I know he’s for certain, and that’s all I need.”

Lara: Cultivating gratitude is not just some fluffy thing that you do on Thanksgiving. It is something that you intentionally choose to do, to orient your life in the direction of truth. There may not have been anything growing, or at least not very fast, in my garden beds. But, when I opened my eyes to new possibilities and started to cultivate gratitude, I noticed so many marvelous things. Not just in my yard, but growing in my heart.

Lara: And tip number three, rest. Just own the season that you’re in. This was not my plan, but it was certainly Gods plan. What’s interesting is, the rest of the world, all of the idols of the world, they don’t know when to say, “Enough is enough.” It’s always, “More money, more fame, more this, more blah, blah, blah,” you fill in the blank. Yet, God is the total opposite. God knows when to say, “Enough is enough,” and that’s why he created what’s called, sabbath, rest. You probably know from Sunday school, or reading your bible, on the seventh day God rested. Such a strange thing, right? Why would the God of the universe need to rest? Well, I wonder if it’s because he knew we would need someone to model it for us. If God needed to rest, surely we do too.

Lara: We were created for rhythms of rest, and let me tell you something really interesting, my friend. You may recall that 2019 was the year that I declared it the year of sabbath. Oh, this makes me giggle now, because God had plans, as he always does, to teach me this in ways that I could never orchestrate myself.

Lara: Now, I’m going to read you some interesting things. Are you ready for this? Let’s just do a little detective work. We’re going to put some pieces together. As you remember, this is our seventh year of having a garden. Grace is seven, I started the garden a little shortly after she was around one years old, so this is our seventh year of having a garden.

Lara: In Leviticus … Now, don’t turn your ears off, this is going to get good. Leviticus 25, it says, “The Lord said to Moses at Mount Sinai, ‘speak to the Israelites and say to them, when you enter the land I am going to give you, the land itself must observe a sabbath to the Lord.'” I have chills, read for this? “For six years, sow your fields, and for six years, prune your vineyards, and gather their crops. But, in the seventh year, the land is to have a year of sabbath rest.”

Lara: God, you have a funny sense of humor. A sabbath to the Lord. “Do not sow your fields, or prune your vineyards. Do not reap what grows of itself, or harvest the grapes of your untended vines. The land is to have a year of rest.” I know, right? Kind of crazy. Not crazy, it’s just God. You know what? He probably, most definitely, absolutely 100% knows that it can take ladies like me, a little bit of extra oomph and push to learn lessons, AKA I can be stubborn.

Lara: Is this saying that, if you a garden or a yard that every seven years it’s going to die? No, it’s not. But, it was him, clearly wanting me to learn something from what he had shared with the Israelites, clearly wanting me to stop in my tracks and say, “Hey, hey, hey, hey Lara, I’m trying to get your attention. Hey, hey, hey, it’s me. It’s me. It’s me, God. I see you, I love you,” and he’s saying the same to you. “I see you, I love you, it’s okay to rest.”

Lara: In this time, I have not of course been watering the garden as much as I would at night, and I loved that time. I really did feel like it was time for me to connect with the Lord, and I still go out there now. But, I wasn’t tending to the garden as much, or pruning, or out there looking for caterpillars, or dealing with pests, or whatever it is. Instead, you know where I’ve been? I’ve had my bible open. Some nights it’s just been long conversations with Ari, some nights we’re watching a National Parks Documentary on the couch, some nights it’s just been me and the word. And, I have been learning so much about this interesting phrase I’ve seen over and over in the word, especially in the Psalms, “Sing to the Lord, a new song.”

Lara: Isn’t that interesting? Why would God need us to sing a new song to him? Perhaps because sometimes things become so rote, and so mechanical, and we go through the motions, and we don’t appreciate them as much, as we lose sight of why we were doing them in the first place. When we start to think outside of our normal routines and rhythms, you know what happens? We get a fresh perspective. You better believe that every single flower, and dandelion, and even the weeds that have flowers on them in my yard that have popped up, I have stopped in my tracks, and I have savored them. I am singing to the Lord, a new song, and he’s really good.

Lara: Okay, I hear by interrupt this podcast for a commercial break with the Isaacson children. This commercial break is sponsored by Grace Isaacson Enterprises. Gracie, I am talking on the podcast today about how God decided to give us a year of rest in the garden, and how not a whole lot is growing out there. Tell everyone, how tall are some of those seedlings still out there? We planted things in May, and here it is, July, end of July. How tall are some of those dudes out there?

Grace: About a foot, or a half a foot.

Lara: Yeah, more like a half a foot. Some of them are still like two inches, right? Are they supposed to grow that slow, or are they supposed to grow a little bit faster?

Grace: They’re supposed to grow a lot faster.

Lara: Yes, yes. But, there have been some really cool things that we’ve noticed, that God grew in unexpected places. Remember that?

Grace: Yeah, like popping up zinnias.

Lara: Yeah, where did we find the zinnia plant growing?

Grace: In the back of a rose bush.

Lara: Yeah, in the back of a rose bush, and by the garbage can of all places, and that was pretty cool. All right, to close out this commercial break, would you like to say anything to our listeners, Grace?

Grace: Bye, bye. We’re going to the Cat Café today.

Lara: Yeah, so my mom is visiting, and Grace and my mom are going to what’s called the Cat Tails Café, have you guys ever heard of this? Where you get to go and play with cats, and eat food. How are you feeling about that, Grace?

Grace: Good. I’m going to eat a cupcake.

Lara: Okay, cats and cupcakes. Have a good time.

Lara: And, back to our regular programming. Yes, I know, I still can’t get over the cat café thing. All right, back to it here. Exodus 23:10 says … These scriptures just get even better. “For six years you are to sow your fields and harvest the crops, but during the seventh year, let the land lie unplowed, or fallow, and …” and this is the word that just sinks it in for me, are you ready? It says, “Let the land lie unused.” Whoa. Let the land lie unused. Now, the rest of the world on a daily basis, tells us to use everything, right? You better make the most of this life, and you know, I love that too, let’s make the most of all that we’ve been given. Yet, this verse says, “To the Israelites in the seventh year, let the land lie unplowed, or fallow, and unused.”

Lara: Now, so I did a little digging here for us. I stuck my big trowel into the root of that word, the unplowed or fallow word, and the root means let it alone. It means to fling it down, or just let it desist from growing, to discontinue, to overthrow, to release, to let it rest, and again, that word, to throw down.

Lara: It’s not an inactive thing, it’s actually a very active thing. Now, why in the world, why do they say to let the land lie fallow or unused? Well, farmer friends, you know this, that letting the land lie fallow is part of healthy crop rotation. When you let the land remain unsown, the ground rests, and its fertility is restored as that soil settles overtime. Nutrients can start to seep back into that soil so that farmers can plant crops in the next season. Maybe this season for you, this time of disappointment, this time of what feels like bleakness, is actually openness, and it’s preparing you, preparing the soil of your soul, to grow something really good. Something that you can’t see or feel yet, and that’s frustrating.

Lara: It’s frustrating to sit in the unknown, but you know what? I can’t see below the surface of the soil, and yet underneath the soil, in the season of winter around here, things are happening. Those worms are still worming around in there, and tilling up that soil. The nutrients are melding together, and making this rich humus in the soil that overtime, once spring comes, it’ll be ready for planting new things.

Lara: We really don’t like the idea of letting go, we really don’t like when things are fallow, or unused. They can tend to feel purposeless, right? Sometimes, I really don’t like the idea of rest, because I just want to get one more thing done. Our brains are literally wired for accomplishment. There is dopamine that releases when we check something off of a checklist, that’s why some of us, we’ll not name any names, sometimes tend to go back and add things to a to-do list, just so we can check them off. Don’t tell me you’ve never done that before. But, our brains are wired that yet, and yet the Lord is on a different economy.

Lara: God knows when enough is enough, and he wants us to experience not the, what we feel like is going to be a punishment of a season, or a time, or an experience that feels unknown, but it’s actually a gift.

Lara: I’m going to tell you more about what has happened out in my garden since, but first in the spirit of letting the land lie fallow so that it can recharge, so that I can listen to the Lord, I’m going to take a break from the podcast. I don’t like that doing that. I like being here and talking to you, I love our conversations together. I just love this time with you so much, and yet I have learned a thing or two from this sabbath year, that I did not orchestrate, but he did. That is, sometimes you need rhythms of rest, so that you can come back, and be better than ever.

Lara: I’m going to take the whole month of August off of the podcast, and I really love thinking about time off from something, as actually time on something else. I’ll be back in September though, but first of all, let me give you a couple tips on how to avoid failure in all of this, how do you keep yourself from staying in that crushing feeling. That, “Okay, my plans didn’t go as planned, and I’m just going to feel shame about this.” How do you avoid that? Then, I need to tell you about the garden. Are you ready?

Lara: Number one, avoid dwelling too long on what didn’t happen. We talked about this a little bit together today, but avoid dwelling too long. It’s good to lay your feelings down, to own where you are, to acknowledge where you are, and like we said, whether that’s on paper, or if you’re in a really challenging season, with a counselor or someone you trust, it’s really good.

Lara: But, avoid dwelling too long there, because you can get stuck. Write or talk those feelings out, feel it, and then in God’s timing, move forward. Number one, avoid dwelling on it too long.

Lara: Number two, instead of comparing where you thought you would be, I know y’all, you hear the choir start to sing with this one. Instead of comparing where you thought you would be, or where someone else is, dream about better possibilities. Dreaming is an exercise in faith. When you do cultivated dreaming, you’re looking at the big picture, you’re asking yourself the golden question of, “Where do I want to be when I’m 80, or 90, or 100 years old, and where do I not want to be? What’s going to be important to me then, and what’s not going to be important to me then?” If you focus so much on where you thought you would be, or where someone else is, you miss those possibilities.

Lara: It’s okay to dream, and I will say this. Sometimes it’s painful at first to allow yourself to dream. After the season of loss, after I had, had Grace, and after going through that miscarriage, I really didn’t want to dream anymore. I had actually not planned to do much out in the garden that year, and so nothing was out there. I had planted just a couple things, and that was it. Then, I did that, because I thought, “Well I’ll be taking care of a new baby in the spring. I won’t have my hands as free as I used to,” so I just didn’t plant anything. Then, my hands were open, they felt empty at times, and I didn’t want to dream anymore. I didn’t want to look at that garden, because it reminded me so much of what did not happen. It felt empty.

Lara: In the Lords timing, when it was right, I finally broke out a box of Crayons with Grace, and a big piece of brown scrap paper that something was wrapped in. And, every pigment mark of those crayons to write out, and draw out what the garden could look like, it felt painful at first. Then, it didn’t. Then, I started to feel hope. Then, it ended up being the most marvelous year in the garden. It wasn’t without sadness, it wasn’t without grief, but it was a beautiful year of inviting people over into our lives, who we never would have had deep connections with had we not gone through that experience. Women who had experienced loss, women who were going through really deep challenges. We got to be out in the garden together, and we got to enjoy, and taste, and see that the Lord really was good, even though it didn’t feel like it at the time, and that was good.

Lara: It’s interesting to think back on, it was during that season that I started a group called, “Ladies Bible Bunch.” I know some of you are listening who are a part of Bible Bunch. It started as this idea that there’s so many friends I have that, we just really want to get together locally to study the bible, just open up the bible together. We did, we started it, and we ended up with 100 something women. That lasted for two years, and it was the most marvelous two years. It only came to a close because the Lord ended that season when we adopted Sarah, and I had Josh. But, that never would have happened had we not gone through that season of loss. Never would have had the ability to dream about different possibilities. We would be on a whole different track. So many things in that season came because good things can come out of hard things.

Lara: Wherever you are, dream about new possibilities. I have to say this, I don’t know if you’ve noticed this lately, but have you ever seen that hashtag, goals? What do you usually see that hashtag on? You usually see it on seemingly, and I’m using air quotes here, perfect things. Whether it’s someone who has a quote/unquote, “Perfect,” body. Or, a perfect life, or what people perceive as a perfectly organized home, and people say, “Ah, #Goals,” and we kind of laugh it off.

Lara: Well, I wonder in dreaming about new possibilities, I wonder what would happen if we put that hashtag on a very different list of things. Starting over on a 2019 goal, even though it’s the end of July, #Goals. Growing slowly instead of chasing overnight results, #Goals. Letting go of a dream to make room for a new one, even if you can’t see exactly what that new one is yet, #Goals.

Lara: Doing small things with great joy, #Goals. Being humble as a leader, a mom, a wife, a sister, #Goals. Falling down seven times, and getting up eight, #Goals. Asking for help, #Goals. Giving when no one sees it, hard work and perseverance over the long haul, taking a nap even though you could get one more thing done, celebrating your email list growing by two people this month. Hello, that’s two hearts who will be encouraged by what you have to give to the world, and that matters. Praying, waiting, surrendering, knowing there’s nothing magical about January 1st, repentance, #Goals. Trying new things, even though you don’t feel like an expert. Scrambled eggs for dinner at least three nights a week, speaking from experience here. Cereal at least once a week for dinner. We love that in our house, #Goals.

Lara: Making the most of what you have right where you are, not waiting until some magical day when you have it all together. Starting a podcast, even if it doesn’t feel perfect. Making step forwards on a goal a handful of times in a month, instead of every single day, and calling that a win because little by little, steps actually do add up, #Goals. Knowing you don’t have to be perfect to live a meaningful life, #Goals. Finally, saying enough is enough and taking a rest, #Goals.

Lara: What if there are better things than what you thought ahead? Or, better things than what the world says is great? This season is actually a gift, it’s a blank canvas, and this season is preparing you for the next. Now, if you don’t own where you are, and cultivate gratitude, and rest in whatever way you need right now in your life. If you don’t, you could keep going, and feel frustrated, and keep feeling that guilt, and keep feeling like, “Ugh, I need to fix this, I need to strive, I need to move forward, I need to be the hero here.”

Lara: Or, instead of striving, you can learn to stride. You can feel free, able to enjoy where you are right now, and you’ll have your eyes open for new possibilities. Now, there is still time for me to start over in the garden. I could fix the soil and start fresh again, and plant some fall crops. But, you know, I’m actually really good with this sabbath year right now. I don’t know exactly what it holds, but I’m here for it.

Lara: Now, I might get a couple bags of new soil and try for a pumpkin just yet, but I already feel like this year is different than before. I’ll go for the gold again next year with the garden again, and I’ll be so rested, and so ready to enjoy it in new ways, Lord willing, when it grows again. But, you know like the scripture says, to everything there is a season, and it’s okay to say enough, and take a season of rest.

Lara: Now you know. Now you know that we can make all the plans we want, and do it all perfectly. But, his plans are always better. Now you know that this season is preparing you for the next, and now you know that this season might be for something better than you planned. It might not be that you need to work harder, or fix things, it might just not be the right season for it. Now you know, it’s okay to rest. Keep your eyes, and your ears, and your heart open right where you are, you might notice magical things in unexpected places, like behind your garbage can.

Lara: Where do you start with all this? You start where all good things begin, with one small step. Do this, write out what’s frustrating you right now. Just write it out in your own words, no one needs to see it but you. Be really honest. Write out what are you frustrated about that didn’t go the way that you thought? You lay that out in black and white, or pink and purple, or whatever pen you want to use. When you lay it out, you can start to do something about it, you can start to move forward.

Lara: Okay, so let’s chat about what has happened recently. I promised you we would come back and I would tell you about the garden now. I have to tell you that I pretty much just completely let go. Nothing was growing, and I just let all the weeds take over. I was growing way more weeds than anything else. You know, they were pretty interesting for a little while, I just let it go because I honestly just felt frustrated by it. I thought, “Okay fine, I’ll take my season of rest, and I’ll just totally ignore it out here.”

Lara: Then, the Lord started to work on my heart and I realized that, that’s not the best way to deal with this. So, I pulled a few weeds, and I pulled a few more. Several trashcans later, now I can see that there really was some good grow in there. There are just a few zinnias popping up. They’re super short and strange looking, but zinnias nonetheless. But, I am enjoying them so much more than I ever thought possible.

Lara: I’ve had hundreds, if not thousands of flowers out here for six years. Now, I’ve got about four, and these four flowers, I appreciate them so much more than I ever could have imagined. Now, I must tell you about my squirrel friends. Some people have girl friends, I have squirrel friends. My squirrel friends, I did not categorize them in the friend category for very long. I’m rolling my eyes right now, because they just kept eating my peaches. I have to tell you that the moment that I decided to just let it go and not walk outside first thing in the morning before breakfast, and just get frustrated, and march back in and say, “Ugh, the squirrels, they ate my peaches again.”

Lara: I decided to let it go and I thought, “You know, God feeds the birds of the air, he’s got to feed the squirrels too,” and they’re just going to have peaches this year, and that’s okay. I took the net off, took it off, tree looked a lot happier, looked like a lady in mourning at first with that big black net over it. I took the net off, I removed Hooty from his post, and I decided to let go. Yes, the squirrels got a few extra peaches, but you know what? So did we. I had those boundaries and borders set up to where I couldn’t even pick one, my kids couldn’t even pick one. Just last night, you know what we did with a couple dozen of those peaches that we did finally get off the tree? We made a couple peach pies. One for us to enjoy, and one to share with our neighbors.

Lara: If you’re willing to look for it, there are good things that happen when you let go, when you surrender, and when you just let go of trying to do things the way that you think they should be done. A whole lot more people, and squirrels, benefit.

Lara: This was fun. Thank you for joining me. As a reminder, I will not be here doing brand new episodes, but take this month to go back and catch up on some of these favorite episodes of the podcast.

Amy Hilly: Amy Hilly, Bonduel Wisconsin, and my favorite episode is how to number your days.

Jessie: Hi, my name is Jessie, I’m a Coast Guard wife, and we currently live in North Bend Oregon. My favorite episode is episode 16, how to let go of a dream. It helped me to navigate through letting go of something that needed to go, but it was a good thing. Sometimes letting go of good things is necessary but hard, and having the encouragement of the, Cultivate Your Life Podcast was amazing. Thank you.

Janelle: My name’s Janelle, and I’m 25 years old. I recently discovered the, Cultivate What Matters Podcast, and I am so glad that I did. My favorite episode so far is the, number your days. I just realized that I want to get control of my life before it slips away from me, and I could not be more thankful for this podcast. Thank you.

Crystal: My name is Crystal, I’m from Warren, Pennsylvania. My favorite and first podcast episode of Cultivate Your Life was number eight, how to number your days. It really has changed my life. It’s changing my marriage, it’s changing our family, and I just couldn’t be more grateful. Thanks to Lara and her team, you are appreciated.

Megan: Hi, I’m Megan from Southern Arizona, and I really liked episode 12 because it encouraged me that though I am flawed, I am really loved. Because, sometimes I still find myself thinking, “I’m not good enough,” or, “I can’t do that,” based on things from a past hurtful relationship. Episode 16 was also helpful in helping me to let go of the dream of the way that I thought my life would be, and to just really dig into now, and what God has for me now.

Kyla: Hi, I am Kyla, and I’m from Steinbach Manitoba up in Canada, and my favorite episode is, how to say no. I just love the perspective of how saying no is actually saying yes to things that are more important in life.

Lara: I would love to chat with you and hangout on Instagram @LaraCasey. You can also follow me on Facebook, Lara Casey on Facebook. And, if you want to get the free downloadable homeschool planner, I loved making this just for us and I thought, “I should be sharing this with other people,” so I did. Go to LaraCasey.com for all the show notes from this episode, and many more episodes. Hop on over to CultivateYourLife.com. Until next time, get out there, get your hands dirty, smell the roses, and cultivate what matters.

Ari: (Singing).

Ari: Was that okay babe?