Sep 16, 2016

LITTLE BY LITTLE / What Do You Want to Grow?


The air is getting cooler, and I’m feeling it: I’m going to have to let go soon. The cold will take these blooms in a few short weeks, and I’ll begin dreaming again of next year’s garden. It has been a beautifully imperfect year in the garden. Nothing manicured. Lots of surprises. Like the time we planted rutabagas and up came horseradish. And the time when we found termites and had to remove all the wood chip. Lots of experiments, and things that never grew, and awkward little spaces. And yet this has been my favorite year. So much life in Gracie’s Garden — goldfinches, butterflies in seven colors, hummingbirds, bees, the neighbor’s sweet cat, Gracie eating tomatoes and throwing flower petals in the air, and a few green lizard spottings. It has been real good. And I always feel a little sad when the air cools. Nothing on this earth lasts forever, and yet what we grow here matters. I’m asking myself these questions:

What good could I do with this life I’ve been given, right where I am?

What can I cultivate that will grow long after I’m gone?

img_4850Picking flowers last night, after everyone went to bed.

106 days left in the year to use well, and grow good things. Lots to think on this weekend. In-progress thoughts from my garden. : )

Here are 10 Things to Help You Make Progress on What Matters This Week (In no particular order!)

1. Make Dinnertime Matter. If you could have dinner with anyone, who would you choose? I’d love to hear your answers! Wait till you see what happens when these kids begin answering this question.  

2. Tell your story. I cried so much writing my story in Make It HappenI wrestled with God a lot about my past. I cried to Ari. I grieved. But here’s the miraculous thing about pain, tears, and grieving… in it, I healed. Although it didn’t feel so fun at the time, writing my story was one of the best gifts I’ve been given. Even if you have no interest in publishing a book, consider writing your story. Use a journal, your laptop, a voice recorder, scrap paper—anything. Writing your memories could change you, and allow you to sort through things that may be holding you back from moving forward. And if you do want to publish a book, I recommend Compel Training. Here’s a free ebook I contributed to that may help encourage you too: 7 Secrets You Need to Know as New Writer.

3. Let It Be. I haven’t submitted my writing for something before without being prompted to by someone else, and I was all sorts of nervous to do this for the first time. Last year’s Advent Devotional from Naptime Diaries (now Amen Paper Company) was life-changing for me. Many of the words still linger with me, specifically Becky Kiefe’s piece (part of which can be found here – “When Jesus Interrupts Your Cleaning“). I’m grateful to be included in the 2016 Advent Devotional this year. Preorders launched yesterday.

fullsizerender-8Last night with all the monkeys before bed. : ) 

4. Lose “Always” and “Never.” I shared a few sneak peeks from my upcoming e-book about marriage in Wednesday’s Facebook Live. A favorite tip that has helped us: eliminate always and never from your relationship vocabulary. Ari and I began practicing this after listening to a Tim Keller sermon years ago (that I can’t find the link to now), and it helped us communicate more lovingly and truthfully. As I was searching the inter-webs for that Tim Keller sermon, I happened on this great article from the Beating Fifty Percent site.

5. Choose Grace, Not Perfection. My friend Emily’s book, Grace Not Perfection, releases in one month. We used to own a consulting and branding company together, and one day, in the middle of a ver busy season for us, Emily said to me on the phone, “I want to hold myself to a standard of grace, not perfection.” It was a lightbulb for both of us. We are going to create a Thunderclap to spread this message far and wide on release day. Join us.

6. Laugh. To everything there is a season. Coming out of a really hard season, I’ve noticed that I’ve been relishing the gift of laughter lately. You’ve probably noticed this, as I tend to include at least one funny video in each week’s post. Here’s your giggle for this week: This guy is a high school principal and oh my stars. Just watch. : )

7. Mark your planners. November 1 is PowerSheets launch day. Nicole and I had a flood of emails after last year (and still get them) from people who were really sad they didn’t get a PS Workbook. So, mark your planners, and we’ll be doing a livestream that day for you to follow along with our launch, and see the new products in action. This year’s PowerSheets are a new size (smaller!), new material, and every page of content has been made even more fun, meaningful, and powerful. Oh, they are so good! And yes, there are new stickers. I wish I could hand-deliver them to each of you specifically, dear friends. I’ve loved getting to know many of you here since I started this new blog series. Your comments and our conversations make my week.

img_4875Gracie found a ripe watermelon in the garden this morning! 

And these last three are words to tuck into your heart pocket, or write each of these on post-it notes for your desk so you start next week well!

8. Done is better than perfect. Get a free iPhone or desktop wallpaper of this, and many more here.

9. Busy is the enemy of peace. Busy takes us away from our purpose. Busy is not truly productive in the big picture. Busy means life’s joys and surprises can’t find a way into our lives because we’re moving too fast to see and experience them. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to move so fast that I miss my life. More here.


10. And I’ll keep reminding you, and myself:  It’s okay to grow slow. 

What are you most wanting to grow in your life right now? I believe in the power of words. Getting them out of our heads helps us take action and move forward. To encourage you to get your words out, I’ll choose a few of you to win a set of colorful inspiring desk cards. : ) I’ll share my thoughts in the comments too!

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P.S. I didn’t forget about the news I had planned to share with you, as promised in my last post. I thought we would be ready to share, but good things sometimes take extra time to grow : ) More to come.


  1. Tiffany on September 16, 2016 at 11:57 am

    Relationships. Trying to teach my kids that every interaction can grow, help or hurt a relationship. I want to be intentional with all the people in my life.

    • Lara on September 16, 2016 at 1:54 pm

      You are a great mom for cultivating this in your kids. I’m encouraged by you!

  2. Lara on September 16, 2016 at 12:25 pm

    I want my health back. Trying to keep trusting when it’s a struggle to get out of bed some days has worn out my heart the last 14 months. I know my family, my home, my business, and my faith are suffering. Through all of this and other unnamed family struggles, I pray that God will grow me to be more like Job so that even in the dust I keep blessing the name of the Lord.

    • Lara on September 16, 2016 at 1:53 pm

      Oh friend. I just stopped to pray for you. Lord, give me same-name sister courage. Give her strength. Increase her faith beyond what she ever thought possible!

  3. Emily D. on September 16, 2016 at 12:31 pm

    My writing. I want to get it out there in the world and that means taking risks–especially the risk of failure and rejection. I’m feeling really vulnerable about this right now, but I know if I don’t try, it’ll never happen!

    • Lara on September 16, 2016 at 1:52 pm

      I’m so proud of you for sharing this, Em!

    • Lara on September 22, 2016 at 11:37 am

      Emily! You are one of the randomly-selected winners of the desk card set! Email with your mailing address, and she’ll get your prize to you! : )

  4. Lara on September 16, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    I want to grow peace. I went to the doc today for a check-up, the same doctor who saw me during my pregnancy with Grace, and told him all about this last year. He was encouraged by all I told him, but he looked me in the eyes and said, “Even though things are great now, things can linger. It’s okay to take some time away.” We’ve come through a really hard season and I texted Ari right away to tell him that I think we should have a family retreat. Not a vacation to escape, but a retreat to draw closer to God, let the dust settle, and breathe into this next season. So, I want to grow peace and move forward in greater faith than we’ve ever had.

    • Emily D. on September 16, 2016 at 2:36 pm

      That’s a great idea, Lara! I take at least one silent retreat through my diocese every year and it is SO rejuvenating.

    • Patricia on September 16, 2016 at 7:42 pm

      A great idea! My husband had monthly retreats when he was in college where he would just drive to the beach and stay at a nearby place. Flash forward to today, I think that’s something both of us could do as a married couple. Thanks for the reminder!

    • Emily on September 19, 2016 at 10:26 am

      Lara! This is SO good! Such a great idea! We are coming out of a very hard season as well and this series is breathing life into my daily routine. THANK YOU!

  5. Sara on September 16, 2016 at 2:12 pm

    When I read your post, ” I wanted to quit my business,” it pierced my heart. I was rocking my little one to sleep after the hardest year of our life (he’s our first, came extremely early) and I came running from the bedroom after getting him settled and told my husband, “If I could meet and have lunch with one person dead or alive, it would be Lara Casey!” TRUE STORY!!!! Thought that when I read your first bullet here. I’m not sure what exactly I want to grow more of in my life right now but the message of busy as the enemy of peace strikes a nerve. We live in a busy area, lot of obligations with work, friends, family and peace and quiet time are hard to come by. Thank you for your transparency and encouragement! Can’t wait for Cultivate!

    • Lara on September 16, 2016 at 4:31 pm

      Girl, your story had me in tears when you began sharing it on Facebook. I can’t believe all you went through. I wish we could have a meal together too : )

  6. Michelle B. on September 16, 2016 at 2:12 pm

    I am most wanting to grow relationships. My relationship with God and through that my relationship with each of my babies and especially my husband. This last year, grieving my mother, has been hard. I’ve realized in the last few weeks that instead of growing closer to those around me, I’ve distanced myself. While trying to figure out how to move forward without my best friend, I’ve pushed the other three people that are in my life further away. I’ve been working on my relationship with God in this year, but I think I’ve still left that little distance in there, that little barrier. I didn’t realize I was doing it, but God’s been laying it on my heart and showing me lately. These barriers don’t keep me safe, free of pain and grief; instead I think they’ve caused more. And so I am actively trying, little by little, to grow these relationships.

    • Lara on September 16, 2016 at 4:29 pm

      Michelle, your introspection is so good. I love your thoughts! Your heart has been through a lot. God is always here to welcome you home and draw you closer.

  7. monica on September 16, 2016 at 3:47 pm

    Smaller?! I got the workbook last year, and I missed the binder function because I wanted to print my Lara Casey newsletters and put them inside the tabs. Is the new size going to be a size that can mix and match with other stuff?

    • Lara on September 16, 2016 at 4:28 pm

      This year is all about simplifying, so the size is smaller to fit into a purse or bag more easily. You could still fold and tuck them in, though!

  8. Natalie Andrews on September 16, 2016 at 4:54 pm

    I have noticed recently how often you laugh in your Insta-videos! I love it! I was thinking I need to laugh more often and more freely. Also my husband often calls me out on saying never and always – thanks for the reminder! 🙂 And for sharing that site! I have never seen it before and it looks great!

  9. Emma on September 16, 2016 at 6:22 pm

    I’m wanting and needing more love and patience in my relationships with my little family. I’ve felt so quick to anger lately and maybe some of that is pregnancy hormones but this is such a special time in my life and I would hate for our memories to be angry ones.

  10. Patricia on September 16, 2016 at 7:49 pm

    Somewhat ironically, I’m wanting to grow patience–in the midst of my job hunt and search for clarity career-wise. It’s also a season of dependence on my in-laws as they help me and my husband get on our own feet again. We’ve had to transition from being missionaries overseas to living a missional life in the States recently, and everything is new to me since I’m an immigrant. Thank God for generous and supportive in-laws, but I’ve had to fight guilt over being dependent (unfortunately pride is involved, too!). Andrew Murray in his book “Humility” taught me that if I am unable to depend on others out of pride, it will be harder for me to rely on God. I see it now—how He’s using my in-laws and other friends to sustain us during this season. So all of that to say, I’m slowly growing patience and increasingly giving myself more grace . I’m pretty sure I’ll never have this much free time in the future 😉

    • Lara on September 22, 2016 at 11:37 am

      Patricia! You are one of the winners of the desk card set! Email with your mailing address, and she’ll get your prize to you! : )

    • Patricia on September 23, 2016 at 1:15 pm

      Hi! Is it from the latest giveaway? According to the post, I won one of the Emily Ley planners (and it already arrived) 🙂

    • Patricia on September 23, 2016 at 1:18 pm

      Oh wait! I get it now haha. Wow, thanks! I’d be happy to pass these cards along once I get them to bless others!

  11. Sarah on September 16, 2016 at 10:19 pm

    You and your family are so beautiful and full of joy! Right now, I want to grow focus. I feel like I’ve been doing too many things at once and I end up feeling overwhelmed. I want to focus on the things that are important–my family and friends, serving others, and loving deep. I don’t know where to start but at least I have a goal to start working towards. Progress, not perfection, right?

  12. Yvette on September 17, 2016 at 7:44 pm

    I seem to always need to grow more discipline . . . which I try to do with baby steps in my powersheets – but . . .

    Discipline in saving, and less spending, eating healthy, more exercise etc. . . . work in progress.

  13. Diane Taylor on September 19, 2016 at 8:35 am

    THANK YOU thank you for writing these Friday little-by-little posts. They encourage me so much :):) I lost my son 4 years ago at age 24 in a fire – and a huge piece of my heart went with him (of course). Since that horrible day, I have been searching for something…something to substitute my son Jonathan’s life. I used food as a huge substitute – news flash to myself: it didn’t work. Now my focus is on finding my way back to health and wellness for my body AND my soul. Little by little. Inch by inch. Pound by pound. Open heart and open faith. Imperfect progress is my guide 🙂 Thank you and all your staff for your words of encouragement!

  14. Desiree Montalvo-Holt on September 19, 2016 at 2:06 pm

    Grow me Lord so that I can fully trust you. Have been suffering with fistulas for over 6 years. I am now 6 plus surgeries later and find myself doubting it has worked. I know God has always been there and will not leave me, Sometimes it gets to be to much when you just want to be normal and healthy again.

    I am joyful of His love . Help me to grow in TRUST!

    Desiree, Go Make Joy Contagious!

    • Lara on September 22, 2016 at 11:36 am

      Desiree! You are one of the randomly-selected winners of the desk card set! Email and she’ll get your prize to you! : )

  15. Em on September 19, 2016 at 2:07 pm

    I am not sure I asked for it, or (being really real) even want it, but hospitality seems to be something that is growing in my life right now. With it has come a greater need to focus, and a little bit of letting go. Leaning in to whatever I’m supposed to learn right now!

  16. Catherine on September 22, 2016 at 8:53 pm

    I want to grow self-discipline and more consistency with good habits, especially spending time with God and taking better care of myself in order to be present for others.It helps me to remember that I was thrilled to see my son learn to walk, and saw his falling down as of the process. In the same way, God sees me try and sometimes fail, and loves me unconditionally, despite my shortcomings.Now if I can just learn to stop hitting the snooze button in the morning!

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