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Leaving a Legacy? Introducing Write the Word for Kids!

We're still celebrating in the wake of our launch last week, and we are so grateful for your enthusiasm for our new (and, ahem, legacy!) products. The best compliment we could hear from you is that our products are helping you and your families cultivate what matters, right where you are.

We're thrilled to be introducing you to each of our new products and sharing a bit of the story behind them over the next few days. Last week we introduced you to our BRAND NEW Finance Goal Guide, and today I'm giddy to introduce what I know will be a cornerstone product in the Cultivate Shop: our Write the Word Journal for Kids.

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Not many people know, but prior to joining the Cultivate team, I had the privilege of serving on the kid's ministry staff at my church. As our Kid's Director, I had the chance to serve the families in our church by building a ministry program to introduce them to Scripture.. A constant refrain in our ministry meetings? The days with your children are numbered, and you have a unique (and limited) opportunity to begin to build a legacy that will last long after the days they pack their bags and move out of your home.

What do you want them to grow up knowing?

Whatever legacy might look like to you, we know cultivating faith in the hearts of children doesn't produce overnight results. Instead, it takes little-by-little tending and watering of seeds of the Word... and that's where Write the Word for Kids comes in!

 

 

 

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Write the Word for Kids was inspired by our popular Write the Word journals, prayerfully created to help women just like you dive directly into the word of God with no fluff. Many of you have said that the Write the Word journals are unlike any other Bible journal you have ever used—and now we've made a version specifically for kiddos!

This is a place where your child will get a specifically-selected verse to write out (the "write the Word" part!), along with space for them doodle (or color, or paint, or go sticker-crazy!) thoughts, prayers, or anything else God places on their heart.

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Write the Word for Kids is made up of thematic sections that take your child on a journey through the heart of faith, including God's love for us, His creativity (we were created to create!), and His grace in our lives. This journal was crafted with the big picture of God's story in mind, helping to point your little ones to places in the Bible that will help plant the seeds of faith deep in their young hearts, lasting well into their adult lives.

Ready to get started? Lara recorded a webinar with her top tips for cultivating faith in the hearts of children, and you can view it right here! The free replay is available, and be sure to tune into the comments section for lots of ideas and encouragement from our listeners, too!

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Our biggest takeaway? Cultivating faith in the lives of children is like planting a seed. Planting seeds doesn't yield overnight results. It’s putting our trust in something bigger than ourselves, and it requires optimism and faith. We can't wait to see how our newest volume of Write the Word transforms your family quiet time and the hearts of your kiddos! 

Shop Write the Word for Kids here!

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How To Be Present

At the most recent Making Things Happen Conference this spring, as I sat in the back listening to each of our attendees share over their two days at The Carolina Inn, I noticed something...

Over and over, a theme emerged: women want to be present in their lives. They want to be present for their spouses, present for their kids, perhaps present in their time with the Lord, or even simply present with the task at hand as they move throughout their day.

This sounds like such a twenty-first century problem, doesn't it? And there's shame there, like why can't we just do this thing that sounds so simple?? While I'm sure this has always been a challenge to some degree, the fact is that it is uniquely a "right now" problem: there are more distractions, and more powerful distractions, tempting us than ever before in history. (Can you tell I'm reading The Tech-Wise Family and LOVING IT? :))

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Photo by Rachel Coffey

But back to the MTH Conference: this deeply-seated desire to be present was so universal and so keenly felt, but by the same measure, attendees seemed at a loss for how they could create change in this area in their lives. I certainly don't have all the answers, but I wanted to share a few things that have worked for me and for other Cultivate team members. The catch? Very few of these will be surprises to you. We all know these things. The true challenge is doing them. I'm here to encourage you on that, too, as you'll see below! :) Let's go!

One final note: when we talk about being present, I don't think most of us are talking about achieving a blissed-out state of zen. What we want is to live deeply in important moments, giving the people we care about the gift of our attention, and maximizing (in the most heart-centered sense) each moment we have. We want to live and remember each day as distinct and praiseworthy instead of just one more in an undifferentiated slog. Okay, now let's go :)

1. Define what's truly important to you and remind yourself of it often. We will never stop talking about the importance of a "why" at Cultivate - it is central to everything we do, and to the message of the PowerSheets! Without a strong and personally meaningful why, we'll never stick with something that's challenging or requires something of us. So why does being present matter to you? Define it, write it down, and perhaps picture it visually (I have a simple inspiration board on my fridge that reminds me of the kind of life I want to live -- one that is very present).

As an example, part of my why was articulated beautifully in this opinion piece from the New York Times. The author writes that the quantity of "quality" (present) time is almost as important as the quality, that we delude ourselves when we think we can "plan instances of extraordinary candor, plot episodes of exquisite tenderness, and engineer intimacy in an appointed hour." The truth is that we never know when those moments will show up, so I want to be present and ready for them as often as I possibly can be. "People tend not to operate on cue... We reach out for help at odd points; we bloom at unpredictable ones. The surest way to see the brightest colors, or the darkest ones, is to be watching and waiting and ready for them."

2. Set a hard boundary. This is perhaps contradictory to my first point, but if being present is something you struggle with, start by setting a discrete time period when you commit to being fully present. It might be in the hour after your kiddos arrive home from school, the thirty minutes when you sit down to dinner or breakfast, or the ten minutes with your spouse before you go to bed. Making a commitment is the first step in keeping it.

3. Don't just hope things will work out - make a plan. Identify your biggest barrier to being present and make a plan to defeat it. For most of us, I would venture to say it's our phones. I have found that the very simple practice of putting my phone in the same place on the kitchen counter when I get home from work stops me from having to make a decision every day about whether I'll have my phone in my pocket, in the bedroom, etc. When I place that phone down, it's a physical reminder that I'm switching over into uninterrupted time with my daughter.

4. Find a way to quiet your mind. By definition, if we're not "in the present," our minds are in the past or future, right? Once my phone is put away, I focus on soaking in as much of the moment as I possibly can -- the sights, the sounds, the smells -- instead of focusing on what happened earlier that day or what's to come. It can also be helpful to focus on your breath, especially if you feel a pull to grab that phone!

5. Learn how to be together. Sure, perhaps the best way to be present with someone is to sit by their side and simply listen to them. But, I think we can also be present with each other in ways where our whole world doesn't need to come to a screeching halt. Some of my favorite moments each day are in the mornings when I'm getting ready for work and my two-year-old is sitting next to me in her high chair eating breakfast. Washing my face, doing my hair, and putting on makeup don't require much brain power, but since my hands are busy, it's easy to focus on her and whatever she'd like to talk to me about. If she's playing independently in the afternoon, I also like to sit on the sofa nearby and read my own book - giving her the gift of my available, present self, even though we aren't interacting constantly.

6. Make a system for capturing info. Aside from my phone, one of my biggest barriers to being present is all of the stuff constantly swirling in my head. You, too? To dos, worries, reminders, appointments to make, ideas to remember, birthday messages to send... the list goes on. Simply keeping a scratch pad out in our kitchen so I can jot those things down instead of juggling them in my mind goes a long way toward freeing me up mentally to remain "in the moment."

7. Acknowledge the tension. Like I mentioned at the beginning, just the fact that we struggle with being present can be a source of guilt or shame. Shouldn't being with our kids be the easiest thing in the world? Shouldn't sitting with our spouses bring us the most joy? They very well might - but that doesn't mean the pull of long-held habits is easy to break. You are learning a new way of being, so simply acknowledge the little by little steps you're taking as well as the set-backs, and keep moving forward!

8. Listen to older people instead of resenting them. We've all heard about the frazzled mom at the grocery store who wants to strangle the grandma who says "you're going to miss these days!" as she tries to wrangle her three screaming kids out the door. Well, my own grandma's best parenting advice when I asked her was "I just tried to enjoy them." What a simple, poignant, true thought. To me, that is what being present is about: simply enjoying the people and time I have been given. Keeping that as my focus instead of resenting it, even in the difficult moments of parenting or life, has been a game-changer for me.

Friends, I'd love to hear: is being present something you struggle with? What tactics have helped you be more present in your life?

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Goal Action Ideas for Parenting Goals

We're back today with the next edition of our Goal Guide series! Many of us are striving toward the same things: deeper relationships, a growing faith, and a healthy lifestyle, to name a few. We created this series to spotlight one of those topics at a time and create a bank of ideas for your Tending List! Now, when you want to make progress on your fitness, faith, or nutrition goals, for instance, you can use these posts for inspiration!

This week's topic is parenting! I'm very new to this (10 weeks to be exact), but being the best mama I can be shot right to the top of my PowerSheets priorities the moment I found out I was expecting. As moms, we want to be more present, patient, and nurturing with our children. One thing that helps me make imperfect progress? Coming up with meaningful and practical ways I can love on my baby well. Thankfully I got some help from the Moms Cultivating What Matters with PowerSheets Facebook group. Veteran mamas, please share your ideas in the comments below as well!

Monthly Goals 

  • Read one new-to-you parenting book (We love the idea of inviting your husband to join you for this goal!)
  • Tackle an age-appropriate milestone goal such as sleep training, solid foods, weaning, or potty training
  • Do a seasonal craft, outing, or activity
  • Create a family mission statement
  • Get up-to-date in each child's baby book or scrapbook
  • Plan a family trip
  • Get involved in children's school activities
  • Join a moms' group or play group
  • Learn 2-3 new age-appropriate games
  • Create a chore chart or family values chart to track progress
  • Work through the Parents Goal Companion Guide
  • Pick a topic to learn about and check out several books on that topic from the library
  • Take an infant or child CPR class
  • Frame and hang photos of and artwork by your children

Weekly Goals

  • Have 3-5 sit-down family dinners together
  • Attend church and discuss what you learned
  • Write a letter, email, or diary entry to children to read when they're older
  • Take child to 1-2 activities such as play group, story time, or music class
  • Plan a special one-on-one date for each child
  • Call a mom friend to seek advice
  • Host a play date for each of your children to invite friends over
  • Memorize a weekly Bible verse together
  • Teach your child to cook a new dish with you
  • FaceTime a faraway family member
  • Make artwork together (Don't stress about making a mess!)

Daily Goals

  • Spend an hour of uninterrupted technology-free time with each child
  • Pray for and with each child
  • Read 2-3 books before bedtime
  • Keep your phone in another room during play time or conversations
  • Pack homemade lunch for each child (Adding an encouraging note while you're at it!)
  • Laugh together!
  • Talk about ways your children modeled your family values
  • Show gratitude for good behavior
  • Ask each child to list five things they are grateful for from the day
  • Get outside and active together: ride bikes or take an afternoon walk and talk about what you see
  • Practice patience: respond with grace and say yes whenever possible
  • Tell your children how much you love them!

These are just a few suggestions for items to add to your Tending List each month to make progress on your parenting goals for the year!

We'd love to hear from you: what else would you add to this list?

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Writing the Word with Kids

Since releasing our Write the Word journals, we've had numerous questions about how to Write the Word with children, and today's post has been in the works for a long time! We hope it's encouraging to all you mommas out there hoping to cultivate faith in the hearts of your children!

Let them see you in the Word. Prior to my current role on the Cultivate team, I was a Kid's Director for my church, and one of the things we often said to parents was this: Whether we like it or not, children pay more attention to what you do than what you say. Let your actions speak louder than your words. Whether you are using our Write the Word journals or not, make sure your children see you spending time in the Word and making it a priority in your life.

Provide shorter pieces of Scripture. We intentionally chose longer passages for our Write the Word journals because we believe that it's important to see the verses in context, but smaller pieces of Scripture are a great place to start. Here's an article with some great verses for children! You can also pull out key phrases from passages that you are studying.

Let them choose a special notebook. Turn an errand into an adventure, and let your child choose which notebook they will use to Write the Word. Having a sense of ownership will help them get excited about the process. Now's the best time to go shopping, because back-to-school is in full swing. There's bound to be good deals and a big selection to choose from!

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Photo by Val Woerner

Provide coloring pages. Is your child too young to write? That's okay! Incorporate coloring pages into your time together. A quick Google search of "Bible coloring pages for kids" will bring up a plethora of results, and allow your child to start familiarizing themselves with Scripture at a young age. And for when momma needs a writing break, check out our friend Lindsay Letters' Sweeter Than Honey Coloring Book.

Keep Scripture in front of them. Whether it's on your walls in your home or in your prayers, make talking about Scripture a priority in your home. One of my favorite and creative ways to do this for children is with temporary tattoos. Our friends at Armed with Truth created packs of temporary tattoos with verses, and my favorite is their set just for children.

Make it an activity together. We've all seen those Instagram posts about someone's quiet time-fluffly blankets, warm coffee in cute Anthropologie mugs, a lit candle. But we know what you mommas are thinking. That's just not practical for this season of life, and that's okay! Invite your children to participate in writing the Word with you might make your quiet time a little less quiet, but nowhere in Scripture does it actually say it has to be quiet :)

We're thrilled to be restocking all five editions of our Write the Word journals in our shop on Wednesday, August 23rd. In the meantime, download our free Cultivating Faith guide and start writing the Word today! We've included a selection of 10 passages for you to practice writing the Word right where you are!

Your turn: How do you cultivate faith of the little ones in your home? Teaching your children to engage with the Bible is just one (of many) ways. We'd love to hear from you in the comments!

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How To Set Good Goals for 2017

We don’t do traditional pressure-filled, do-it-all goal setting around here. We uncover intentional, less-is-more goals. This is grace-filled goal setting. We set “good goals.”

Good goals are about stewarding what you’ve been given well: your relationships, your money, your possessions, your work, your children, your home, your health, and your time. A little intentional forethought goes a long way!

We are humbled to say we are sold out of both our One-Year and Six-Month PowerSheets, but that doesn't mean you can't set intentional goals for the year! Lara Casey shared her Sixth Annual Goal-Setting Series on her blog last week, and it's the perfect place to get started on cultivating your most intentional year yet! Grab a journal (we recommend the Make It Happen Journal from the shop!), and join Lara as she walks you through her Personal PowerSheets Prep Work for 2017!

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We are completely sold out of our 2017 PowerSheets, and we are looking into getting a small batch of Six-Month #PowerSheets for the second half of the year, but that doesn't mean you have to wait! Use Lara's Goal-Setting Series to dig in right now. There is nothing magical about January 1st (or June 1st for that matter!)

Do you need the PowerSheets and Make It Happen book to have an intentional year? No. You don’t need any thing to live this life well. They are great tools if you choose to use them, but if you only do this blog series, and use scrap paper to write your answers, that’s great too. Use what you have! If you are someone who has been stuck in indecision lately, or feeling fear about diving into new things, join us in making a mess and dig in!

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Part One: Let's Get Started!

Part Two: Cultivate What Matters

Part Three: Say Yes, Say No, Choose a Word

Part Four: Uncover Intentional Goals

Part Five: Make It Happen!

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Have you set your goals for the year? If so, leave them as a comment so we can cheer you on!

Still need more direction after Lara's Goal-Setting Series?

1. Grab a copy of Lara's book, Make it Happen.

2. Explore the rest of the Cultivate What Matters community site for resources and encouragement!

3. Join Lara and the rest of the Cultivate team in person for the Making Things Happen Conference in March.

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