Episode 034 of the Cultivate Your Life Podcast was released on April 29, 2020. Listen here!

This year, 2020, was going to be your best year yet and then bam, this pandemic changed all of our plans. You don’t have the same routines you had before or the same circumstances or the same focus in life as you did before this. But, but, you do have one new thing, perspective. You know more now than ever before what matters and what doesn’t. Now the question is, what are you going to do with it? Let’s let’s go get some fresh air and go outside in the garden and chat. You ready? Let’s do it.

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.

Oh, heavens to Betsy. First of all, I love that phrase, heavens to Betsy. Thank you Betsy’s of the world for allowing us to borrow your name for that. But it is just so good to be out here with you. Every time we come out here together, woo, I just take a big old deep breath. Hearing these birds, seeing the bees just dance around on these little blooms and there is a lot growing here.

So, since the last time you and I were out here together, all these sprouts are getting a whole lot bigger, including a certain something that’s growing right over there. I’m going to walk over there. Let’s take a look here. What is growing? I’m going to let you take a guess. You ready? If you have been hanging out with me here in the garden on the podcast for a while, you may remember a certain very large something that we grew out here. Not last year because last year’s garden was a bust, but the year before that and it was so exciting.

You guys were so excited about this that we gave it a name. We had a little contest and we gave it a name and yes I am attempting, there’s no promises this year because I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I’m attempting to grow another giant pumpkin. I’m really excited. So, I need your help. I need you to start thinking about names. So many of you have already told me you think it should be Big Rita Number Two or Number Three because we tried for number two last year and it didn’t work.

But I want your ideas. So, be thinking about that. Okay. Back to the garden though. Some things are growing like this new pumpkin sprout here that looks so good. My tomatoes are starting to make flowers. The herbs are starting to flesh out so much and there are lots of tiny little green dots all over this earth.

But the one thing that I noticed the most out here still is dirt, is the soil. The good things, they are growing slow as they do. Now sometimes I look out here in it, it looks like empty nothingness. Sometimes I feel that way about my life too. But when I stop and I take a deep breath and I think about the big picture, I know that this is not just empty nothingness. Those little tiny green dots out here, they’re possibility. There are good things growing.

Now, what if this dirt, this mess that we’re all in together right now, what if, this is a big. Can we go there together? Let’s do this. What if this is our growing ground and what if the fertilizer is this new perspective we’ve been given? And I’m going to take it one step further. Can we go one step further? Just like taking it way too far with growing a giant pumpkin, we’re going to take it way too far and it’s going to be fun. What if this new perspective you have about what matters and what doesn’t is actually going to reveal your very best goals?

That’s what perspective does. When we’re faced with something really hard and you have probably been through some extremely difficult things in your life, whether it is loss or heartache or caring for someone who is ill, whatever it may be, a big transition or a loss of a job, you’ve been through hard things and many times those things, when we experience something that makes us face the brevity of life, it makes us see how much this life is a gift and how much we need to, have to, use it well.

When I think back to my own times like that, they were reflection points. Giving me the choice to keep doing life the way I always did it or, in time, in time, to double down on my days, my minutes, and my hours. When we recognize that we only have so much time on this earth, that truth will help us to think about how we’re spending our time.

When we number our days, like Psalm 90:12 says, we will strive to fill each one with value. Living each moment for what lasts and that doesn’t mean perfect days. Just like there’s no perfect soil out here. Good things grow in the dirt. But this question, this question has been the cultivator in my life. There are two ways to talk about the word cultivate. One is a machine that actually tills up the soil. It’s called a cultivator. It’s like this giant scary toothy thing that just eats up the earth and crushes the rocks and crushes the old stuff. And then there’s of course the word cultivate, which means to prepare the soil for new growth, prepare the land. But when I think about this particular question that has been a cultivator in my life, it has broken up the hard old roots of the past and really broken up the junk that’s been holding me back from living my life.

Here’s the question, “What am I living this life for?” Maybe you’ve asked yourself that. Maybe this time has brought that to mind, whether subconsciously or consciously. What in the world have I been living my life for? What’s your answer? Maybe your answer was pretty different before COVID-19 changed our world. Maybe you’re still searching for the answer right now. Wherever you are, that’s great. Wherever you are right now, whatever you’re feeling, no matter what your answer is right now, it’s okay. It’s good, it’s good. We don’t know how long this season will last, right?

We don’t know how our health or families or jobs or children or bank accounts will be affected, but we do know what matters in the big picture more clearly than ever. We were joking as a team earlier about how we came up with a fun pun for 2020, the year of clear vision. You get that? 20/20. 20/20 vision.

And when this whole thing started to happen and made me laugh a little bit like, “Oh, ha ha. It’s not really a year of clear vision anymore.” You know what? I take it back. I actually am seeing that this is the year of clear vision of knowing where we want to be in the big picture and knowing where we don’t want to be in the big picture. There are things when this whole thing started, that I was worried about, I was fearing, and those things have flown out the window. I have a whole nother set of thoughts that are swirling around in my brain now.

So yeah, this is the year of clear vision and it’s also the perfect time for small steps because big leaps, they can feel even harder than usual. Good things, they’ll grow over time. Just like my garden here. Just like this, Lord willing, this pumpkin. Please grow. Little by little by little by maybe a little big step here and there.

This season, this time, it requires farmer’s faith like we talked about in our last garden chat together. Planting when we don’t know all that’s ahead and trusting that good things will grow and it’s okay, it’s okay to feel distracted and overwhelmed in this time. It’s understandable. It’s okay to start over on your goals. It’s actually okay to love the new goals you set for this time more than the goals you set on January 1st. It’s okay to simplify. It’s okay to take big leaps of faith too along the way with those small steps. It’s okay to pivot and cross things out. It’s okay also to feel fear and to let it lead you to action and new faith. It’s okay to make a new plan. It’s okay to take small steps. It’s okay to grow slow. In the garden, I learned to number my days and love them. To notice them, to notice these little sprouts and how they unfurl just a tiny bit at a time every day to tend to them, to celebrate them, and in celebrating them, I savor them all along the way.

So, how do you get unstuck and out of this rut? How do you pivot on your goals or find a way forward in what feels impossible? You do this one thing. You take this new perspective and you do something about it. You plant it. If I were to just hold onto the seeds, if I just held on to that giant pumpkin seed and just held it and held it and held it, and I knew that it would be so much fun if I were to plant this, it would just be so much fun because it’d be such a great story for my kids to be able to tell their kids one day, and it’s such an adventure to watch this thing grow over time, and tend to it little by little, and give it its little fish fertilizer. It’s crazy, guys. The pumpkin thing is crazy, but I love it.

This whole thing. What if I just held onto that seed? What if I didn’t. And I’ll also say this, there’s so much grace. The Lord has so much grace for us that I can plant this at the perfect time. I can grieve, I can lament this time. I can kick and scream and be mad at how different our circumstance. I can feel things. It’s okay. And then in the right timing I can open my hand and I can let go and I can plant this seed in the dirt, in the dark, and let God do his thing. In the right timing, what is the seed that you will plant in this time? What seed of perspective will you sow right now that will grow into something marvelous many years down the road?

For me, the biggest thing is what am I doing with this perspective with my kids? What am I doing? How am I spending my attention, my time? How am I spending my time with them? How am I looking in their eyes? How am I taking little adventures with them even in our driveway? Am I doing things like taking the risk to plant a giant pumpkin just for the sheer joy of it and the anticipation and planting something now that I can’t yet see? How am I cultivating their faith as mine is being cultivated? What is it for you?

I love being out here with you and the birds and the sweet little honey bees that are all over my lavender bushes right now. I really want to know where they live. I want to know where they live. I know maybe that’s bad that I really want to take their honey, but it would be delicious. There are like 50 honeybees right here on this lavender. It’s amazing. And I’m such a weirdo. Pumpkins and honeybees. I just love it all. I’m glad you’re out here with me. I hope you love it too.

Oh, wait a minute, what’s that? I hear some kiddos. Oh, those laughs. All right, I’m going to go chase those kiddos around the yard.

This was such a joy to be out here with you. I hope you’ve gained a little bit more perspective and I hope you know it’s okay. It’s okay to grow slow. It’s okay to be wherever you are and it’s okay to set some really good goals and this time when you have this clear vision of what matters and what doesn’t. Let’s use that together. Let’s let those seeds go and plant them right here. Until our next garden chat here together, get outside, smell the roses, and get your hands dirty.