I have been having a lot of crazy thoughts lately. Like, “What if I didn’t have Facebook? Or any social media??” And you know what? My husband doesn’t. He never looks at Facebook. Ever. He is perfectly content with just having in-person relationships, and he spends his free time reading the Bible on his phone. That may seem archaic to some, or “boring,” but I can tell you that he is anything but bored. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. - Matthew 6:21 He is focused on what matters and it SHOWS in his actions and how he has completely changed in the last two years.

making things happen conference 2
Photo by Caitlin Sullivan. Oh, what a life-changing two days this was! I love you all so much!

I told the entire story of our marriage at the Making Things Happen Conference a couple weeks ago, and it was one of the most passionate moments of my life. It’s hard to explain the feeling of telling people your true heart – the good, bad and really ugly parts, too. It made me feel, in a word, WHOLE. OK, I have more than one word… it made me feel GRATEFUL. The kind of grateful that wants to do a jig, hug the mailman and sing at the top of my lungs to the birds outside. Yes, I did all three. God is good. Real good.

Recounting all that we have been through (our marriage almost ended at least a dozen times several years ago – we were two ships passing in the night) and seeing where God has brought us is… truly miraculous. We both spent our days searching for fulfillment in all the wrong places early in our marriage. I escaped to my work and to getting “bigger” and to making money and to relationships that distracted me from what mattered. He did the same. Soon, we found ourselves constantly fighting, sleeping in different beds and feeling totally hopeless. We were miserable. We felt like it was impossible for anything to change. But, God…

“But, God…”

Those are the magic words.

But, God didn’t want us to fail.
But, God can make the “impossible” possible.
But, God can bring the dead to life.
But, God isn’t a God of “logic,” He is GOD.
But, God didn’t care about our past. He wanted our hearts.

I told Ari this weekend that I felt like we were best friends again. And we talked at length about how this happened and how we still have arguments and we get weary from work and parenting… but lately these things have made us stronger and they’ve made us see that God is with us. Our key to a strong marriage from what we’ve learned in our experience (from Ari): “The secret to success is the same as it is with God: give up your selfish desires. Live for another. You cannot be passive. You have do to the hard work. Jesus demonstrated this best. If he was married, he would have been an awesome husband!”

secret to marriage lara casey

Marriage is hard and at the same time, the joy on the other side is indescribable. And I know it seems impossible when one person in the marriage is or appears to be more invested than the other. Been there countless times, too. I don’t have all the answers, but I know what worked for us and continues to make us grow closer – keep choosing God and keep choosing love. Love never fails. God heals all things. Too much to say for a little post. You can read the whole story of our marriage here.

I need Jesus Lara Casey

Making Things Happen was about much more than relationships, but for me, it was telling the whole story of my marriage and how God completely changed everything that lit a spark I didn’t expect. It gave me a clear example of how ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.

When you find clarity about your core, you have no choice but to act on that clarity. And, let me just say that the time between clarity and action can be downright frustrating. I know this first-hand! Taking action on what matters can be scary, but INDECISION is like jail to me. So, I choose action. I’ve learned that on the other side of “change is scary” is POSSIBILITY. DONE is better than perfect. And a leap of faith doesn’t mean you haphazardly go after something; it means you can envision a possible positive outcome and you believe in it so much that you have no choice but to ACT on it with intention… even though you don’t know how it will happen. You know that risking for what matters is worth it. The alternative is staying stuck and that gets you… in the same place you started.

And so… back to Ari and social media. You see, he used to spend his time playing video games while I worked till 3am. And now, having faced the brink of what felt like death to us at the time – the death of being totally chained by our sin – we are PASSIONATE about fixing our hearts on what matters. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. – Romans 12:2 Those words say it all. It’s not social media or video games that are the problem. It’s where your heart is.

Making things happen is about focusing on what MATTERS and physically doing something about it.
Making things happen means making tough decisions.
Making things happen is about grace, not perfection.
Making things happen means saying NO to what is holding you back and YES to what fires your heart up.
Making things happen requires guts. And fierce passion. And forgiving yourself and everyone around you.
Making things happen – the right things – will set you free.

I would love to hear from you in the comments here. Tell me where your heart is. What’s on your mind? I’d love to pray for you or give you some encouragement, if I can!

2013 SPEAKING

P.S. I also hope to get to know you in person this year! I am so grateful to have the opportunity to share and teach at these events soon. I had a rather crazy February with 12 speaking requests in one week after the launch of my new website. So, I spent a considerable amount of time praying on each opportunity. I learned at MTH that I need even more time here at home with Grace, so I narrowed it down to just four. I hope to see many of you at engage!13, Americasmart, Pursuit 31 and the Influence Network Conference.

Show Comments (36)
  1. Chandra

    Oh Lara! Sometimes I swear it’s like you are sitting on my couch, speaking right to me. I just got done ranting to my husband about something I saw on social media and I realized that I’m ruining out relationship by venting about something so dumb. I hate the way FB makes me feel and the constant mom-comparisions I have all. the. time. Thank you for this post and for re-focusing me. I needed this and I needed to remember the words you’ve said to me in the past. Thank you, sweet friend. I am so grateful to you. You’ve made me a more present, loving mother, wife, daughter, and friend.

  2. Kate

    My heart is focused on saying either yes or no. Deciding, and living those decisions rather than remaining uncommitted and frittering away my time. My word of 2013 is Intentional. Prayers for intentional living and a heart open to growth would be much appreciated.

  3. Jessica Thornton

    As if I wasn’t already dreaming of finding a way to Influence Conference….now I must be there! MUST.

  4. Kailey-Michelle Veenstra

    My heart wants to surrender to God 100%. To break down every wall I have that surrounds my heart and keep me from letting his Love penetrate and take over EVERY nook and cranny of it.. I want HIM to be the master of my life. Not me, my self-sufficient ways, by idols, my chains, my ambitions.. none of it. I want his will 1000% percent, no matter the growing pains and tough decisions it takes. I want to focus on him- only what matters – love- and let everything else wash away! Thanks for always encouraging growth in my faith and for welcoming a community of others to share in your own journey xoxo

  5. Jessica

    Wow! Until you said this, I never even really fully realized that my husband also never ever spends time on social media. He doesn’t have facebook, twitter, instagram, pinterest or anything else and he is happy and rarely loses focus from the moment we are in. Such a good reminder!

  6. Lindsay

    Oh Lara! My heart is for strong marriages and strong families that demonstrate God’s grace and forgiving love to the world. And that welcome others in so no one is lonely and everyone experiences family. And for families and marriages to be restored in God’s saving power. I’ve just come out of a career that I didn’t enjoy to have twin boys and I’m currently thinking lots about what I might do next. God is moulding my heart and that is very difficult at times. I know that he is doing a good work in me and I hope one day I can be an encouragement to others as you are. I really struggle with discontent and envy and I pray that I learn to become more grateful for each day and for all that God has given me already. X

  7. Corinna Hoffman

    Lovely post…. and I. CANNOT. WAIT. to see you again and this time at Pursuit 31 Conference!! I had such a blast with the P31 ladies last Fall, and it’s going to get even better now that I found out you and Emily Ley are going to be there also!! :) xoxo

  8. Kristine Neeley

    My heart feels… far away. I mean, it’s here, don’t get me wrong. In the laughing with Virginia while she dances for my mom in the kitchen and in counting down the hours until Cliff gets home since he’s so rarely here these days. I think my sister’s boyfriend’s accident has shifted my whole paradigm of what to do with my life, my months, my weeks, my days, my hours. And it feels like everything I was fired up about doing at the beginning of the year has no space in all of this, or not as much space as I’d originally hoped. But maybe that’s the point… I don’t really know. I think my one word – my FOCUS – has been especially hard as it feels like I am literally.all.over.the.place. Sometimes I wish I didn’t have a business to run, but then the moment I’m with my clients my heart is light. Sometimes I wish I didn’t have a desire to write, but then the moment I sit down to do it – actually DO it – I feel more purpose than I do with most things in my life. Sometimes I wish I could just sit on the couch and not show up to the gym, but every time I do, I AM CHANGED. Ah… see.. all.over.the.place. I did read something on Seth Godin’s blog the other day: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2013/03/fomo-joy-jealousy-and-the-lizard.html – that got me thinking A LOT about how I think I use social media as a tool but really I don’t. I use it, often, unfortunately to try to feel less lonely or less alone. Or because I feel like I am missing something if I don’t. Turns out, it works sometimes, and a lot of other times I feel even lonelier and end up wasting a lot of valuable time I could be spending living out my purpose and maybe doing more things to make someone else feel less lonely and end up feeling that way myself. I just want to be able to focus on what matters…

  9. shelly

    my heart is so heavy this week, and as I’m avoiding doing what I should be, and scrolling through my facebook feed, this post pops up, and my… was it exactly what my heart needed. After writing this, I’m shutting off my computer, setting phone down and going to get my two little guys and go to the park… and make what matters happen. When you made your list about what you need, and really the only thing is Jesus… my heart froze. Once again Lara, you are pushing me toward truth. So thankful. I love you.

  10. Jasmine

    Lara, you’re coming to Atlanta!! You must give us more information on the date and time please :)

    SO excited to finally meet you in person!

    Jasmine

    • Lara

      I’ll be there for the July Gift Market and speaking on July 13 at 3pm. I can’t wait to see you there!!!

    • Jasmine

      Oh noooo! I’ll be out of the country then :( ( This means you MUST plan that second MTH conference! :)

  11. Beverly

    Hi Lara, I have been what you call a ‘lurker’ since January. But lurker no more, I have decided to post. My Husband and I moved cross country nearly 8 months ago. It really hit me harder than I thought as I really don’t feel connected to this place we are in. I have spent most of my time paralyzed, confused, fearing the unknown. But, God through all this time has been using my brokenness for good. My relationship with my Husband has grown stronger and more faith-filled. I am so grateful for that, and desire never to take it for granted. That is what really matters. I am really learning what it means to give up my selfishness, and to care for him and allow him to care for me. I wouldn’t trade this time for anything. So, although I don’t know what is next professionally for me out here, I do know that God does have a plan. I trust that I am on the right path. In this season, I am learning to really listen to Him and soak up His truth. To work through realizing my self worth and His power that lives within me. I would love it if you could say a ‘take action’ prayer for me. Thank you for all of your faithful encouragement! Your words of truth and honesty have really helped me as I go through this process. I am grateful for and blessed by you (even though we have never met and live on opposite ends of the country). God is so good.

    • Lara

      Wow, this makes my heart happy. God is so GOOD. Thank you for commenting and sharing your story – it’s a great encouragement to me!

  12. Francesca

    I keep having to remind my heart that it’s good & okay & right & OKAY to love what I love. It’s difficult. Because rarely are there ever days where everyone you encounter & everything you put your hand to is cheering & clapping & working for the good of your heart. But if you focus on the right things–God, His word, His promises, His heart for you–everything else can fall by the wayside. Your heart’s work is never done. Always seeking, always gleaning more wisdom, always expanding to make room for the big things He has for us. My weary heart needed your words today! Thank you for being such a giving vessel of His truth. xxoo

  13. Victoria

    Reading Ari’s quote, specifically “Jesus demonstrated that best” gives me CHILLS. He is so good to melt hearts and turn us towards Him. EEEEE!

  14. Peyton

    Loved reading this post! What would we do without social media these days? It is so admirable that Ari is focused on face-to-face relationships, rather than the world of social media.

    So happy for you and all of these amazing opportunities coming your way. I am originally from Asheville, now living in Gulf Breeze – what a small world we live in!

  15. EMILY STEFFEN

    YESSSS! This post. Lara, it’s just perfect for a Good Friday! :) It’s a year of renewal and choosing what matters most….it’s a year of forgiveness and laying down what our past was to focus on our future! We were made for relationships and if we don’t nurture them and fight for them then we are only compromising the blessings that we can receive through them! :) You are so encouraging! I CAN NOT wait to see you and the Influence Conference…….expect a GIGANTIC hug! :) HAPPY EASTER weekend!!!!!!

  16. Melissa

    Encouraged by your story, strength, and vulnerability! Sending you hugs and wishing you a wonderful weekend! <3

  17. Friday Favorites | Elizabeth Ashleigh

    [...] I may not be married yet, but I was still so inspired by this post. [...]

  18. Catie Ronquillo Wood

    Oh Lara, I must say that it is AMAZING to see the life change in your life. I remember when I met you the first time and the second time…and this last time in Austin. It is amazing to see the growth in your life, marriage, and parenting! Seriously. I’m so thrilled for you. Thank you for encouraging us to focus on what matters most and centering our hearts on Jesus. This has been a huge step in my life in the last 18 months. Last year I started and completed the Joyce Meyer 365 Devotional on YouVersion. It was the first time I had really, purposefully, cracked open the Bible. I grew up in church, but it wasn’t until I was an adult and basically the last two years that I have really understood and made it a point to put God first in my life above all else. This January I started reading Jesus Calling each morning and WHOA, amazing how the Lord speaks to your heart when you put Him first. I also started writing out my prayers in a journal, and to be able to look back and see how God has provided in His perfect timing is amazing. Our women’s ministry group had a series last Fall about just the basics of having a relationship with God and they gave us an acrostic to remember when praying – PRAY – P – praise, R – repent – A – ask – Y – yield. I think the biggest lesson I’ve been learning is to be yielded to God’s perfect plan, not my own. That he has a plan for my life, and while I may be making plans of my own, His are perfect. Learning to be yielded to whatever He wants me to do…and it’s not always easy! But all this to say THANK YOU. Thank you for sharing your heart. I truly see the life change from who you were in 2010, to who you’ve become in 2013. Amazing. Hugs!

    • Lara

      Oh, this is SO encouraging to hear, my friend! You inspire me!!!! I love what you said here – “WHOA, amazing how the Lord speaks to your heart when you put Him first” Yes!!! I love you! Happy Easter weekend : )

  19. Jasmine

    As always Lara you are SPOT ON. Joe and I are going through something similar to what you and Ari experienced a few years ago since we’re working on growing our businesses- but I’ve gotten so much clarity that I know exactly what’s holding me back. We had a crazy financial situation a few years ago (which kind of repeated itself when Joe got laid off yet again in January) but the progress we’d made allowed us to NOT panic this time. Instead, we trusted, and knew it would work itself out if we stayed focused on the end goal. Since that time in 2011, we’ve made a huge dent in our debt, we don’t feel desperate or like we’re floundering, and I’m realizing that it’s time to say NO to a choice I made back then – one that reflects the scared , trapped person I was. God has opened up so many doors for me, for us, to pursue exactly what is on my heart, and Joe and I pray for him to find the same clarity so we can move forward together, while growing our family and doing really important work in this world. Thank you as always for being so authentic and so clear in your message- I think God gave you red hair and that smile so we couldn’t help but notice how brightly His light shines through you! Love you to pieces and can’t wait to see you again!

  20. Lea Hart

    Wow. Just wow. Thank you , thank you, thank you, for being a powerful force for good in the world. I am inspired!

  21. Kristine Aletha

    Your heart for your marriage and your family is so inspiring, Lara. And I am so thankful for your courage to speak honestly about your struggles and where both you and Ari have come from, and come through. It truly is miraculous. That’s the amazing thing about transformation. We get to see miracles happen before our eyes. And it’s so beautiful when it happens to our relationships. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that we need more examples of perseverance and faith and hope in our marriages. We need more people shouting from the mountaintops that God is faithful, that love never fails, and that marriage is worth it. Thank you for shouting it, friend, and encouraging the rest of us to do it as well.

  22. Laura B.

    LARA!!!!!!!

    Your post are amazing & always bring tears of hope & joy!
    I wrote in my journal this morning, thinking of the great inspiration you are in my life.

    However, I still have this fear in my heart that won’t allow me to move forward. I’ve started my website but I’m having trouble
    narrowing down my services and etc…
    ( I feel completely lost) I constantly fight with myself because I really want to do my BRANDING with you but I’m so scared. I know deep down in my heart that you & your team are what I need to make my dream come true. However, every day I attempt to convince myself that the wedding industry is not for me and
    every day I pray for guidance and clarity & there’s not a day that God doesn’t directs me back to you’re website.. No matter what I do, God finds a way to make me stumble across one of your quotes, instagram feed, etc.

    I hope to one day meet you & I pray for 2013 to be the year that I begin my branding with you!

    You’re a inspiration to so many!

    God Bless you & your beautiful family,

    Laura B.

  23. Katie @ A Place to Dwell

    Hi, Lara! I will be at The Influence Conference (purchased my ticket yesterday!), and I’m SO excited to meet you and take your session. Do you know when details will be posted about that?? Your blog has been an amazing encouragement to me, as I pursue some big dreams in this life season. :) Thank you for your inspiration! See you in September!

  24. Laura

    Hi, I have followed you for so long, have enjoyed planning my wedding in my sweet home town of New Bern NC, inspired by the pages of Southern Weddings. I have written in my journal about what fires me up and read my bible more, changed perspectives to Gratitude thanks to you. Your words above are words and thoughts I need. I have only been married almost 3 years and my husband and I have gone through him losing his job, and then great blessing of him getting his dream job in Raleigh, and now us living apart. With me still in Greenville NC, he is up there most of the week and it is hard to live apart. We too have had our ups and downs and feel our our relationship fall apart at times.I am a high school art teacher with a Masters in Fine Arts struggling to find a job outside of public school teaching. I am an amazing jewelry designer and artist and I stay stuck in this hole. In a hole of escapism through social media, though relationships that offer distraction, anything but working on my dreams. I know in my heart I am suppose to be doing something else. I should be promoting my own brand. Instead of following others. I should be working with you to develop a brand, but I stay where I am not advancing.Your husband’s secret to a great marriage is spot on as well as your Making things happen list:
    I will journal and pray and take a leap of faith and move out of the secure town I live in, leave a job that I at times love but know in my heart there is a bigger plan for my gifts. Thank you for the below words:
    Making things happen is about focusing on what MATTERS and physically doing something about it.
    Making things happen means making tough decisions.
    Making things happen is about grace, not perfection.
    Making things happen means saying NO to what is holding you back and YES to what fires your heart up.
    Making things happen requires guts. And fierce passion. And forgiving yourself and everyone around you.
    Making things happen – the right things – will set you free.

    They help me so much, as well as your own journey and your strength to tell it. Your love and lifestyle and life through Christ radiates and sure helps those of us that are lost. Thank you for you!

  25. Currently Loving |

    [...] Loving anything Jesus! And naturally this print is from Lara Casey whom I was going to put on this list anyways. Everyone has been talking about her lately and now I [...]

  26. Caitlin Sullivan

    I love you, L! Excited to see what God has in store for you this year.

  27. molly

    such inspiring words to hear… i am a newlywed and life is just grand. i mean that! but it’s really hard for me to appreciate it because i’m worried about what is going to happen when the “newlywed phase” ends and “marriage” sets in. it’s sort of crippling in a way. i definitely appreciate and love my husband so much but am worried about what is going to happen when the hard times hit. i don’t know if that’s normal or not, but that’s me and my life. i do my very, very best to think positive and work my butt off for this marriage and relationship. i mean, our relationship didn’t start on our wedding day. it started 6 years prior to that, and we’ve had to work very hard to cultivate it. i am SO happy. i am not sure what it is that makes me always wait for the other foot to drop? so right now, my reality, thankfully, is very good and very positive. i just need to WORK to appreciate and accept that. it’s sort of the opposite problem you mention in your post, but i do believe it’s still a problem. i need to be open to happiness and accept the good that is in my life. sometimes that is hard. ahh as i said, such inspiring words! thank you!

  28. Kara-Anne Cheng

    I came back to re-read this blog post. And I just wanted to add that previously I kept my personal Facebook account so I could manage my business FB page (admin has to be active!). But last month, I took the plunge, created a brand new account just for managing the page (did not add any friends, or like any page) and deactivated my old personal account. It was liberating! My productivity has soared (thanks to RescueTime, thanks again Lara!) and I think less and less about people judging me and scrutinizing my actions (probably also because they have no outlet to scrutinize that idly now!) and I am reading the Bible more and more and loving it!

    I kept my Twitter account but did a purge monthly ever since I started your MTH2013 series. I no longer follow unnecessarily and am intentional when I decide who to follow and unfollow.

    Just wanted to share. Now I’m done! :)

    Thank you! xxx

  29. erin

    I am so blessed by you.Thank you for always sharing from the heart.
    I will be at Influence and I am so excited to hear you speak!! Yay!