Last Friday I took a whirlwind trip to Atlanta and back in one day to share some thoughts on branding and making things happen at AmericasMart. It was my first time to “The Mart” and it was incredible.

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AmericasMart is one of the world’s largest permanent wholesale trade centers, spanning four buildings totaling seven million square feet.  It’s big y’all.  The Mart opened in 1957 and hosts several trade shows every year including Atlanta Apparel, Gift and Home Furnishings Market and the VOW Bridal Market (where I’ll be speaking again on Thursday, September 19, at 8am — come see me!). In short, it’s where stores go to find the best new products to sell.

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I was so nervous about flying to and from Atlanta all in one day, but God most definitely blessed this experience. I got through security in jiffy, sat next to a show cat on the flight there, had a great experience on the MARTA (my first time!) and got to The Mart an hour earlier than I thought. And then I started seeing my photo everywhere… which is totally completely super weird.

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I kept thinking people were looking at me funny wondering why my hair didn’t look as awesome as my photos.  My internal answer: I have toddler.  No time for hair-doing on Thursday night before I left.  Ha!

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I had prayed hard about this presentation.  Really hard.  I prayed that I would in some way be used by God to be a light.  It’s a very out-of-body experience for me to speak lately.  Meaning, I can’t believe this is my life.  My path.  My story.  I tell my story each time I speak — sometimes a short version and in Making Things Happen I tell the whole thing — and it always makes me feel awe.

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Awe because I’ve been changed and keep changing.  Awe because I am so flawed and God loves me and changes me anyway.  It’s so surreal to watch as God unfolds His plans — and boy do they unfold fast!  I have been singing this song in my head as I put this post together.  This is the same song that our whole church sang right after Ari was baptized a year and a half ago and it totally speaks my heart.

Some favorite snippets from the lyrics:

I’ve been changed, healed, freed, delivered.
I’ve found joy, peace, grace and favor.
Right now is the moment.
Today; Today is the day.
I’ve been changed.
I have waited for this moment to come
And I won’t let it pass me by…

lara casey americasmart 11

Like I mentioned in my last post, God is never done with me and just when I think the waters are calm, another tidal wave hits.  As I spoke in Atlanta on Friday afternoon, I was taken aback by how comfortable I felt in my own skin, how joy bubbles over at times where there used to be a dry wasteland, how passionate I am about connecting with others and helping them fulfill their greatest potential.  This is not the me I knew just a few years ago!

Reflecting on change as a way to catapult forward has been the theme around these parts lately.  I asked Emily to share some thoughts in our staff meeting this morning about her last four years with Southern Weddings and this is what she had to say:

The remarkable thing about the change is that it has all moved in a forward direction, as the mission becomes clearer, the roles become more clearly defined, and the content solidifies.  It’s not always easy — I, like most people, prefer to be comfortable rather than stretched, and it’s tempting to be satisfied “for good” every time we hit a milestone and the dust settles.  But, the incremental point just down the road has always proved to be worth reaching.  And when you get to the place where you can look back on four years, those incremental changes add up to a landscape that is truly astounding.

Change stretches us and sometimes stretching ourselves is what ignites the change.  Change doesn’t have to be a giant leap.  Even the tiniest changes add up to a completely new life — a brilliant horizon.

I am so grateful for change and our path and whatever is ahead.  My life is filled with ups and downs but more ups because I know who is in control and it’s not me.  I’ve learned that when I find out what pleases the Lord and do it, I start to see my path more clearly.  Find out what pleases Him.  Not what pleases everyone around you.  Whatever good is on your heart right this moment, don’t let that escape you.

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Above, doing a high kick to show off my teal heels as I talked about Tieks and how wonderful their client experience is. 

That’s all I have ever been able to do that has never ever failed me: Ask. Seek. Knock. My 3 tips for finding your path:  

1. Ask: Ask Him to guide you.  Talk to God.  Even if you’ve never talked to Him before ever in your life (yes, talking to “air” can be weird at first), He’s pretty much the best listener.  Ask for Him to show you what to do.  Praying and talking to Him in prayer is just like building any other relationship (except God never fails us like all humans can) so it takes time.  Give it time.  First dates can be awkward but a first date can turn into a beautiful marriage and a family after many soulful conversations.

2. Seek:  Read the Bible.  If that sounds overwhelming, just start somewhere small.  Reading Mark is a great quick way to get to know Jesus’s story.  You can also listen to the audio version, which I do a LOT (when I am walking in the morning with Grace, while I clean the house, in the car, etc).  I love the New Living Translation’s audio here.

3. Knock:  Do something.  Act on the good that God puts on your heart.  When you seek Him, he will open doors you never thought possible (and some you didn’t want Him to open), but there are amazing adventures that await you.

Adventures with God, I’m learning, usually mean that you have to give something up — OK, lots of things — so that He can fill you up to the brim with joy unspeakable.

I almost wrote that “it’s not something that can happen overnight” but that’s not correct.  Your life can change in the blink of an eye — literally — when you start choosing Him and seeking Him and saying YES to what matters and letting go of everything else.

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That means letting go of your own plans and finding out what good plans He wants you to step into.  It takes 9 parts total abandon and humility in realizing that your plans may not be the right plans and 1 part taking physical action to choose Him.  That’s not a theologically perfect formula, but that’s sure what it has felt like in my life.  And I think I’m just starting to scratch the surface myself…

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Sometimes — most of the time — God calls us to do radical, big, wonderful things with our lives for Him.  Do what He wants you to do and trust that His plans are way better than ours.  They really are.

After I finished speaking, I felt such immense gratitude and I wanted to pour that out on others.  I didn’t realize how much of a permasmile I had on my face until Anna sent me these photographs yesterday.  There were a lot of hugs (check out the slideshow below and the rest of the photographs) and I could have stayed for hours to talk to people about their hopes and dreams.  God is good.  This joy you see is not from me, it’s from Him.

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Lately I’ve been feeling a deeper awareness of my responsibility to be a light for Him and to let go of self (I have such a long way to go — more than I can explain in a blog post!) and in that crazy big heart challenge (read: tears and praying harder than ever for God to direct my steps and my words), God has been showing me that a deeper joy comes in change.  In stripping away the layers of our comfort for the sake of others.  In admitting that I am so flawed and in dire need of a guide, someone to tell me how to fly right and someone who has gone before me to show me how to serve others, because on my own I’m totally lost.  

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Thank you, Lord, for sending Jesus to show us the way.  He lived the way you want us to live — giving everything away.  Thank you Lord for joy and friends and the ability to share our lives together and learn from each other.

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I learned far more from the amazing people who joined me last Friday than I could ever teach them.  Namely, my friend Kelly.  We weren’t able to catch a great photo together, but the photo above of us hugging is plenty.  Kelly’s presence on Friday was the greatest gift.  She’s been fighting breast cancer and was as radiant as ever.  Kelly, you being there made my year.  You inspire me to no end.

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Ha!  I look like a total goof above.  And no I don’t drink coffee.  I am just grateful to not be living the life I once lived.  That’s why I always say, “God is good.”  I had 8 million doubts and questions and I made so many mistakes (and still do) but He grabbed me by my heart strings and hasn’t let go since.  And He promises that He never will.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6)

Thank you to so many who blessed me with encouragement and your ears to listen last week.  It made a profound impression on my heart and I can’t wait to come back to Atlanta in the fall for more hugs!

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Enormous thanks to the AmericasMart team and to Amanda (above) who found me on social media somehow.  I am so grateful for this experience!

GIVEAWAY: The Instax Mini winner never claimed the prize (I wait 30 days and if it’s not claimed I give it away to someone else!), so I’m giving it away again! Simply leave a comment here telling me what you’re grateful for and how you’ve been changed in the last few years – big or small.  I’ll pick a random winner on August 1!

LARACASEY-DOT-COM-INSTAX-GIVEAWAY

Photos by my new lovely friend Anna.

161 Show Comments
  1. Sarah D.

    Oh man the Lord made me new my junior year of college. I was a bulimic and drunk. Now I’m a God fearing daughter, married to the most godly man, and on top of that He gave us a son without asking for one 😉 great to see someone use their name for HiS name.

  2. Kaitlin McDuffie

    I think the biggest changes for me came with marriage. They say it changes you & “they” we’re right! I’m a better person for being with my husband, doing life together. He pushes me to be a more godly, gracious & selfless woman. I thank God for him!!!

  3. Amanda

    I am grateful that Jesus choose me to know him. I am grateful for the Bible that God uses to speak to me. I am grateful for my husband who leads our family. I am grateful for my precious son that reminds me of what it means to have a child like faith. I am grateful for my church body that challenges me to lay down my life and follow Christ.

  4. Kerry

    I have so much to be grateful for. God has blessed my life tremendously and I love those moments where you just stop, look around, and think WOW, THANK YOU LORD! Life is good! I am two weeks from my first child’s due date, married to a wonderful and supportive husband with so many friends and family there to cheer us on. I was baptized last year and have been able to cast my cares and worries upon the lord, knowing that he will move to take care of them – and he has. I catch myself with this song in my head alot… http://youtu.be/FfyIz-YAGOg

    • Lara

      Wow, this is so encouraging! Kerry, I’m so happy for you!! I am praying for your birth ahead and for your first weeks as a mama to be so blessed!

  5. Raquel

    I’m so happy to hear your trip to Atlanta was such a success! I am beyond grateful for the recent addition of our sweet baby boy to our family. Having a baby that is 100% dependent on you to love and take care of them is both scary but also the biggest blessing one can experience. Being a mother has given me a lot of clarity on what is truly important in life and how fast time really does go by. It teaches you to be completely selfless. It reminds you to live in the present and try not to waste energy on worrying. Being parents has brought my husband and I closer than we ever could’ve imagined (and we were already very close before). And it makes my heart burst with joy and happiness. They are my world. And for them I am beyond grateful.

    • Lara

      I am so happy to hear this! I’ve been thinking of you so much. So grateful for you, mama!

  6. Anna Tidmore

    I’m grateful for the opportunities God has given me in the last few months to use my talents to photograph friends and family. And I’ve been changed by the grace of God!

  7. Amanda

    In the last few years I have been changed by God. I used to read the Bible and think about Jesus based on how it applied to me. I used to read the Bible and see it through the lens of how it applied to me. Christ has shown me that he is the main character in my story, not me. It is his goals, his passions, and his desires that should fill my heart and give me joy. I still have so far to go to recognize that in every area of my life. But God is good, and he changes people.

  8. Jenn Skinner

    Lara —

    I read all of your blog posts but today’s post rang so true in my heart. I love the authenticity and the vulnerability you exude when you write. It’s really unlike anything else I read on a regular basis (well, except for a few other MTH alum blogs!) 🙂

    Today I am grateful that almost one year ago I randomly came across this nifty little organizer called “The Simplified Planner”. I was curious so I bought one. Then, I really liked Emily Ley’s blog so I started following her blog and on Instagram, which led me to your blog, Gina’s blog, and countless other amazing entrepenuers who I follow regularly.

    In this past year, my life has changed. I’ve changed. I’m not done changing. And it’s all for the better. And I’m so excited about what’s to come for me….and I simply cannot wait to meet you and all the other amazing speakers and participants at MTH in October.

    So today I am grateful for people who’ve come into my life and inspired me. Thank you!! 🙂

  9. Mandy V

    Today I am greatful for the new community God is building up around me + my husband in our new home. God is showing us new friends focused on what matters much which is incredible in friendships!

    • Lara

      This makes me so excited for you! Community is the heartbeat of what has made so much change happen in our lives. I’m so glad you are finding that there and I’m praying it keeps strengthening!

  10. Monica T Smith

    Lara;
    I love seeing and hearing how God is transforming your heart, mind, spirit and life. He is truly faithful. Know that He is fired up excited about how you live for Him – devoted. May He continue to bless you, Ari and Gracie.

    Love you,
    Monica

    • Lara

      God has used friends like you to encourage my heart SO much. I love you sister.

  11. Weezie Keiner

    In the past two years I have become a wife, accepted a new job which means my husband and I are moving from our home town for the first time ever (except for college), became a homeowner, and an anxious person. Within all this change though I have had to learn patience and to let God take the wheel. I found that I so often tried to control my destiny and wanted immediate results but God has shown me some of the most amazing signs to slow down and let him steer. Thanks for hosting this giveaway and for always being such an open book.

    • Lara

      You’ve been through so much in the last 2 years. I struggle with wanting immediate results and feeling anxious all the time. I am praying for you as you continue to let Him lead. You are on the right path!

  12. Linda

    I’m grateful for you! Seriously! Reading your posts and listening to your story has been such a blessing into my life. I’ve gone through so many changes this year already (got a boy roommate and changed my last name!) and I’ve slowly stepped into the doorways God has opened for me, but so reluctantly! I love the Lord and try SO hard to trust him, but let’s face it- I’m human and I like things my way! But you are clearly His vessel and seeing you give your life to Him and the blessings He pours into your full life is so encouraging and inspiring. Thankful for your willing heart and His everlasting grace and mercy.

    • Lara

      Oh, girl, do I understand your feelings! I kick and drag my heels most of the time when God says GO, but He always wins : ) Thank you for the encouragement!

  13. Krista B. Gamble

    As I know you have the same feelings, but in December my husband and I were blessed with the birth of our first child. I have seen each and every day in a new way since he was brought into our lives. Each night as I go to lay him in his crib I thank the lord for giving me him and making me his mama. Every night I watch the lord take him and hold him in his hands and watch over him ever second of the day. I am thankful for my family, friends, and husband for all the love and support that have shown over this precious little boy. My life has forever changed for the better because of him.

    I sing this song to him every night as my grandmother used to sing it to me.

    “I wash my hands this morning, so very clean and white. I raise them up to Jesus to work for him til’ night. Little feet be careful where you take me to, anything for Jesus only let me do.”

    • Lara

      I love this song. Wow. I want to learn that and sing it too. Googling it now… Thank you for sharing your heart : )

  14. Lauren

    Lara! What a blessing you are! You don’t know how needed your words were on friday! It was so nice to hug your neck! Hope you are enjoying your basket of GRACE 🙂 Can’t wait until our paths cross again. (hopefully over some biscuits and jelly)

    Lauren.

    • Lara

      Lauren Lauren LAUREN!!! Do you see my smile up there with my basket of GRACE and you? I am still so overjoyed at your generosity. I think I’ve told everyone I’ve seen since Friday about it!

  15. Robin

    Im grateful for finding this blog, its awesome! Also for husband, family, church, house, job, etc. Lots of blessings I forget to count one by one 🙂
    I’ve changed in the last year by expecting less of myself and more of myself all at the same time. For example, a freezer meal every now and then is OK. My husband and I both work full time and sometimes I don’t have time to grocery shop and prepare a meal. Chicken pot pie does the trick! Also, expecting more of myself in the things that DO matter,such as health and time with the Lord. I’ve started working out before work, and am still trying to (which is better than not trying at all) to find quiet time with the Lord.

    • Lara

      My Grandpa’s favorite was Marie Calendar’s chicken pot pie. It’s better than Tylenol when your head is spinning! Good for you for letting go and letting God : )

  16. Amanda J

    You are such an encourager! I love how The Lord has worked in you and has given you such awesome opportunities to be a light for Him. Im so grateful yhat we serve a God who loves us and changes us to be more like Him. The Lord has been working so much in mine and my husbands lives. It has been such a sweet journey to share with him! We are in the process of packing up, selling things, and moving to follow the Lords call on our lives to go live in Haiti. We are so undeserving of this great task He has given us, but we have full faith that He will continue to equip us for what He has called us to. This post came at the perfect time and has encouraged me so much! Thank you!

    • Lara

      Oh Amanda. You are living the life I desire. I want so much to — whether literally or figuratively — leave everything for His good work. I am praying for you and your husband and so inspired by what you are doing!

  17. Amy

    I am grateful for YOU! You are radiant in the pictures above! Your honesty and heart are refreshing and a frequent kick in the rear that I need!

    xoxox! HUGS to you!

  18. Christie Ray

    Lara, thanks for sharing this! So encouraging to hear about what the Lord is doing in and through you.
    I’m grateful for our Father’s unending faithfulness and grace, and the many times over the last several years that He’s shown me that He is ALWAYS enough and NEVER fails.
    Little by little, He is changing my heart and causing me to desire Him and His glory over me and my glory.

  19. Kelsey Page

    Oh Lara. This post is amazing and speaks right to my heart at this very moment. I am grateful for God, as I can now recognize, for He has never given up on me and I recognize that His plans have led me to Emily Ley who in all her perfect imperfections has opened my eyes to what really matters and now I am filled with fire to make things happen. And not things my family or friends or even husband thinks I should be doing but instead what God has planned for me. I am allowing myself to ‘let go, let God’. In the few months that I’ve been keeping a journal, following a Devotional and praying for God to worry for me so that I may lead the life He wants for me and focus on what matters in my day to day. Thank you Lara for your open heart and honest words. I have a story too and it isn’t smooth or perfect or predictable but it is my story and one that I believe was set for me in order to get to this place; to do God’s work. I love you and I love Emily and I am excited to live this life!

  20. Martha Mata

    I’m thankful The Lord blessed my marriage with a healthy, handsome and truly joyous son. Through my little guy, God has taught me the true meaning of being selfless and patient. In fact, I’m really understanding the whole “grace, not perfection” deal 😉 I realize I’m just entering a new facet of what God wants me to experience, and I’m nervous because that involves me letting go of so much, but I know for a fact what He has in store for me and my little family, is nothing short of great! Thank you for your beautiful heart and for sharing truth.

  21. Joy Hocker

    I am grateful for worldly “failure”. Often what I wanted has not followed God’s plan for me. Failing at these things opened my eyes to my inappropriate strive to do my best at things that did not have God in them, My desires are no longer driven by what the world says I need, but what God tells me is best for me. am rateful for the grace He gives me when I fail uch more important things. I am grateful for lessons and love and forgiveness and fresh chances to do the Lord’s will, and not my own.

  22. Nancy H

    O Miss Lara! I’m grateful for the Grace of God… Can not wiat to hug you in Ocotber.
    XOXO

  23. Olivia

    So thankful for my kids. I always wanted to be a mommy, and then after 6 miscarriages, I thought God might have had othe plans for me. But he brought one beautiful son into our family through adoption and then a miracle baby biologically all in the last 17 months. I have been radically changed for the better. So many ways…one being patience. Towards others and toward God and his plan for my life. He is so good and so gracious. Loved reading your post today and being inspired Laura.

  24. Mary-Kate McClure

    I am thankful for the way that God has taught me that giving thanks to Him is worship. Through the last 5 years God has totally redirected my paths and I am in awe of His goodness. He is now teaching me to be grateful in everything…it has shown me how He is far from done with me and for that alone I am grateful!

  25. Nina

    I am most grateful for God’s mercy! It changes me in big & small ways (If I let it)everyday! LOVE your blog and testimony! SHINE!

  26. Olivia

    Lara** sorry for the typo 🙂

  27. angelica louis

    i’ve learned in the past 6 months (after moving 1/2 way across the US for my husbands job) to be grateful for family and communication. as much as I miss home, its been such a blessing learning to communicate with my family on the phone, in handwritten letters and face-timing. I have such a better open line of communication with my family and friends back home that not only has strengthened our relationships, but enriched them.

  28. Madelyn S

    Thank you for your words of joy! Your posts always inspire me (and often tend to give me a much needed kick in the rear!)
    I’m grateful for the past four years of college. I am a fresh new Elon grad, and I will be forever thankful to God for blessing me with the most amazing relationships in college. He helped me find a remarkable small group, and this has helped me see the value in finding a supportive and challenging Christian community in this strange new phase of my life.

  29. Esther

    I’m grateful for my husband 🙂 I know that sounds cliche, but he truly is my best friend. Recently he told me to chase my dream of owning my own photography business and he is helping me Make Things Happen by putting more on his plate to help lighten my load so I can focus on my new business. He’s incredibly supportive in every way, and that makes me the luckiest girl on Earth!

  30. Mary

    I love these posts so much. Your heart is such a light! There isn’t really a part of my life that God hasn’t touched in the past year. 4 months into our new life as a married couple, my husband got a life changing diagnosis that ended his new career as a pilot. We were devastated, but we turned to each other at the same moment and said “we can’t go through this without God.” our marriage has strengthened, our faith has strengthened, and God has provided for us every single step of the way. It’s amazing. Thanks for sharing your heart as always!

  31. Rachel Harrod

    I am so thankful and grateful that my path lead me to Washington DC to go back to photography school! This one thing allowed me to meet my husband, get married and start my own wedding photography business!

  32. Christina Leigh

    Lara, I am so grateful for your heart! I love that you are an open book for the Lord and you shine bright for Him. A little over a year ago I had someone in the wedding industry ask me how it was possible for me to be so open with my faith as a wedding planner. The answer was simple, I am open with my faith because wants me to be. He wants me to shine bright for Him. In turn He has lead me to amazing people who shine bright for Him as well. Sometimes it’s hard, but when I see you posting about His perfect mercies it makes it easier. It’s good to see that I am not alone and it is so good to see the amazing path our good Lord is leading you down. I am grateful for your heart and the hearts of those the Lord calls to share on large platforms to reach the world. Thank you for sharing! xo

  33. Modupe

    Lara I just love you! I love how God just flows through you. I was changed some years back when despite being born into a Christian home, I became a Christian for myself. However I need another change. So many things tugging at my heart. I need to ask, seek and knock. I’m going away for a week long church convention this weekend- I pray I experience the change there.

    And by the way I have had that song playing over on Spotify on my phone for a while. Love it.

    Every blessing from London

  34. Bailey Robert

    The past few years have been the most transformative of my life! I am beyond blessed and so enjoy looking back to see such evidence of God’s faithfulness. In the fall of 2009 I packed up my car and headed off to Baylor University as a freshman, eager to join their theatre department and pursue a degree in performance. I had done and said all the right things in the past, knowing how to talk the talk and what I thought was knowing how to walk the walk. Once at school and on my own, it was then I realized that before I had been living in religion and ritual rather than out of a sweet, intimate relationship with Jesus. He met me at school in a much deeper way and I have not been the same since! This may brought graduation and my last semester was home to a heap of stress and planning, at least initially. A recurring theme in college was that of surrender, the Lord asking me again and again to trust him and His plans. This home-body, Texas lovin’ girl said a shaking “Yes, Lord” and He took me to Seattle! I am a month into this journey and am learning more and more each day about God’s faithfulness and trustworthiness. He’s so good!

  35. LeiLani @ Elle Golden Photography

    I am grateful to be in Atlanta, closer to an amazing group of photographers who lift each other up instead of seeing each other as competition. My group of photog friends recently raised money for me to attend a workshop to learn new how to better my craft. How awesome is that?!

  36. Lauren

    What an encouraging post! I don’t remember how or when I found your blog but I am so happy I did.

  37. amanda

    love the JOY on your face! i once made a whirlwind trip to ATL too!! it was for Making Things Happen, and it was the best thing i’ve done thus far in my life! i am grateful for that but more importantly YOU! you inspire me every day to live a life thats worth it! would love to come visit you in Chapel Hill now that i’m somewhat close!

  38. Whitney Porter

    Lara,
    Today I sent Gina an email telling her how much she inspires me and motivates me to be a better me. YOU do the exact same thing for me. I’ve been working through my powersheets and dreaming big and being thankful (oh so much) for the women of MTH! Love you all!!

  39. alli

    I am grateful that I am no longer a hateful person. God has really done a marvelous work, im not perfect but im getting better

  40. Jaclyn

    I am thankful for my wonderful boyfriend who makes the days fun and keeps me motivated when things are a little rough. In the last few years I’ve learned what really makes a good friend – and who is not worth putting the effort into if they’re not going to make the effort back or will continuously nit pick and drag down everything. I felt guilty cutting people out of my social circles before and would continue to hang around people who just made me MISERABLE. No more!

  41. Melissa

    I’m grateful for God taking away life as I know it and giving me the life that He wants me to have.

    In the last year and a half, I’ve had a baby, had a huge relationship shattered to pieces, lost EVERYTHING on my hard drive when it crashed, been hospitalized for complications related to birthing my baby, struggled to help my baby gain weight, moved from Tennessee to Texas for my husband to get his phd, moved to a city I had never even seen and a place where I knew no one, and began staying at home full-time. This last piece – staying at home – has been one of the biggest struggles because I have two advanced degrees and I really want to be using them. Wow, just spelling it all out helps me to let go a bit more and lets me realize that I really have been through way too much to handle on my own.

    In the midst of all this, I came across your blog, Lara, and I was BLESSED to be able to attend MTH 2012. Even though I probably wasn’t in the best place in my life to attend, as I literally had no direction at the time, looking back it was the best thing that could have happened to me. I daily go back to my core. I’m rebuilding a new life, and I am drawing on who I really am in order to do that. I still have a long way to go, but I’m beginning to see the light. God has truly taken most of my life from me and is telling me that He has so much more planned for me. I truly think the only way I would have heard Him is through all this brokenness, and so here I am. Here I am thankful for the mess, the brokenness, the complete despair. And here I am ready for HIM, to do life His way.

    Thank you for helping me along the journey.

  42. Megan Ayers

    Over the past few years I have really been grateful for my husband. He has been my rock during tough times and my biggest cheerleader. He is currently pushing me and inspiring to make my dream come true–with no excuses. Make it happen!

  43. erin m.

    I’m grateful for God’s sustaining peace and presence through highs and lows. For family that is faithful and accepting. For purpose in my life. For the ability to see God’s hand even when things don’t pan out the way you imagined.

    I’ve changed and grown so much the last few years. I have grown immensely in self-awareness — I’ve learned who I am and it has changed everything. I’ve become more firmly planted in my faith and am no longer afraid. So many more things I could mention!

    Lara, I can’t wait to hear you speak at Influence!! You have played a huge part in my growth the past few months. Blessings —

  44. Lauren

    This week last year I found out I was pregnant. Honestly I thought my life as I knew it was over but the Lord used this past year to break me, reshape me, and grow me more than I could imagine. My precious baby girl makes my heart more full than I could have ever imagined and makes me want to be more like Christ everyday. Thanks for your encouragement to all and for sharing your heart in such a real way!

  45. Erika

    I can’t even count the ways I’m grateful today, but your heart is always one of them. I still remember how excited/scared/sick to my stomach I was over my first MTH, but, my friend, it changed my life and started the process of turning my life upside down and my heart inside out. Thanking Him for you and all his love you shine on others.

    p.s. Of course I’d happily click away on that Instax, but I couldn’t resist sharing either.

  46. Jessa

    Today, on my first morning run after a longer-than-i-intended hiatus, i was filled with gratitude- for the sidewalks that keep me safe, the health to push my lungs and legs farther… it was such an appreciation for the present moment- accepting my NOW. I’ve been diving into His word and realizing how amazing His love is. I feel more like a grown-up lately – taking responsibility for how my decisions affect my happiness and whether or not they align with my values.

  47. Abigail Brannon

    I am grateful for the doors God has opened for me within the past year. I am also grateful for my parents whom I have become closer too within the past few years and my wonderful boyfriend of five years.

    Within the past few years I have become more patient. God has taught me how important this is for things in life. I have also become a more independent and young professional!

  48. Kricia Morris

    I’m grateful for the life growing in my belly right now, I can’t wait to meet him any day now!

  49. Allison

    There are so many experiences, big and large that have transformed my life and in turn, make me grateful. Being raised as a pastor’s daughter and in the church I ironically believed I had to “do” and “be.” I thought with “doing” and “being” I could receive eternal confirmation and worldly affirmation. Instead, it left me struggling through an eating disorder much of my teenage years and simply wanting more. Continuing to go to church and be surrounded by the church body, my eyes and ears began to be changed through the workings of the Holy Spirit. I remember the first time my then boyfriend, now husband, really explained to me the Gospel. It was raining, but all I remember is tears rolling down my face and my heart being freed. I was no longer condemned, but renewed and set free. Four years has passed and I now live in the South, as my husband works his way through seminary to be a pastor. What I am grateful for now is what may appear to be a huge weakness, but the Lord is growing in me a faithful heart from it. You see, I have a speech impediment. I have stuttered all of my life, and feel extremely inferior and insecure at times due to ny speech. But through the readings of 2 Corninthians 12 I see that Paul too had a” thorn in his flesh” and he thanked God for it because grace abounded even more. And I too see this in my own life. So despite this incredible frustration and drawback, I am able to see grace abound even more and truly thank the Lord for times I can perfectly explain the goodness of God or confidently talk on the phone.
    Ps thank you for all your delightful posts and vulnerability.

  50. Meagan Burriss

    I just recently found your blog & I am in love! God is working in my life and calling me to change and take myself out of the equation and live for him & be who he called me to be!. Your blog has encouraged and inspired me a lot over the last few days. Thank you for being so open and honest!

  51. Heidi Bray

    Lara- The depth that you share in your posts is truly touching, on many levels. Thank you for that. Over the last few years I have grown in ways I never imagined. I might be becoming my mother 😉 Not really, but I am learning to be a mother to my 2 little boys. It is a daily process and I do not take it for granted. They have shown me patience, grace and that I don’t have to be perfect I just have to be present. Without my husband and my family by side I wouldn’t be where I am today. I’ve learned that relationships mean more than passing things. 🙂
    Looking forward to hugging you in October!

  52. Sarah Kivell

    I’m grateful for the gifts I have to bless others with and for the people in my life who bless me with their gifts. This year I learned that I should not doubt who I am and that when I am faithful, God takes care of me.

  53. Darian Tarver

    I am so grateful for the relationships that God has blessed me with. In the past few months so much has changed in my life and I don’t think that I could have made it through without my Savior and my friends. I am 19 years old and I recently ended things with my boyfriend of nearly 5 years because I knew it was a relationship that was bringing me away from the Lord. I know it seems silly to bring up a boyfriend, especially at my age because I’m still young, but it was one of the toughest experiences that I have gone through. This was a relationship that had happened pretty much all throughout my years of being a teenager and losing it was not easy at all. However, God, being the amazing father He is, took away that one relationship and blessed me with over 10 more friendships. After I ended things with my boyfriend, God called me to a new church (which was very scary to me but also very exciting) and after only 2 weeks going there I was blessed with so many new friendships. I am constantly amazed by God’s love for us and the way He blesses us for doing things for Him. So in the past few months, my life has made a completely 180 and I couldn’t love change more!

  54. Heather Harty

    I’m so incredibly grateful God chose me to become a mother two years ago, and not just because of this insane love I have for our daughter or the tremendous joy I’ve found in life since she’s been born, but because Becoming a mother has been a massive catalyst for growth and change. God has been stripping me down layer by layer to help me see what he put at my core. It’s been painful, and scary, and incredibly freeing, and just when I think He’s done w me for a while, Im quickly reminded that Hes only just begun. Lara thank you for being a light, and for sharing your journey, to say that your words are comforting, inspiring, and motivating would be a major understatement!!!!! Praying for you!!!! Xoxo

  55. Charity

    I am so grateful for God placing amazing people in my life. It’s not coincidence. He does it for a reason! And He’s always right on time!

    Over the last year my life has changed in ways I would never have imagined, some good and some bad. I graduated, a third time, I moved from a church I swore I would never leave outside of marriage and moving away and my family has changed. I attended MTH LA 🙂 I acted on the things we talked about and I applied for my dream job! But more than that, I’ve grown in my ability to surrender and be flexible. I’ve grown in trusting the Lord. Above all, I am stronger, wiser and a better person because of my dependence on God. “I won’t go back!” (That song is so my theme song for 2013) It ain’t me, but the Jesus in me!

  56. Francesca

    “Whatever good is on your heart right this moment, don’t let that escape you.” Oh how my heart needed this & I didn’t eve n know how much until I read it.

    Remember how at MTH last October, I mentioned that one thing that fires me up is how one word from God can change everything? Even in an instant? That one moment of absolute (Divine!) clarity? I’m with you Lara–it can change in an instant. Life is messy & crazy; and good because He’s good. Thanks for the reminder, friend!

  57. Catherine

    So glad you had a smooth experience – getting there and then speaking-!

    I am thankful for friends, that stick with you through everything – even when your 1000’s of miles away ! 🙂

  58. Lissa

    I am thankful for my husband. God has truly blessed me with such an incredible, loving, supportive man. I’m so grateful I get to share this life with him!
    In the past year, I’ve learned to be more thankful, see the positive and find the good in every day( or almost every day— I’m still a work in progress!)

    Also, thank you so much for all your work. You have no idea how you have been used by God to inspire, challenge and change me!

  59. Lesly

    I am greatful for my husband. He has helped me become a better person, he has shown me the true meaning of family and trust. The two things that at one point in my life made me depressed and had me completely lost. He brought me back and God blessedus with two beautiful children. I am thankful for him and for our little family.

    Thanks for being such an inspiration.

  60. Tabitha

    Love it Lara! It’s all about abandoning what we think we need to do and letting God do it all. I want His will above all else! Praise Him for your beautiful testimony!

  61. Alexandra

    I’ve been working a lot on building a relationship with Him. Devotionals like She Reads Truth and following along with your story have helped strengthen that relationship. I am working at it every day.

  62. Amy

    Lara, Thank you for sharing your heart. I am so thankful for you and most of all for Jesus choosing me.

    God is good.
    ALE

  63. Catie Ronquillo Wood

    Oh Lara, it’s amazing to see the change God is working through you in just a few short years! Truly, I see the change from when I first met you! Your smile in these photos have an extra shine in them, if that makes sense…I can see that you are honestly happy. Thrilled for you, friend! I am thankful for my husband and his unending support! I’m grateful that at the beginning of 2012, I decided to do Joyce Meyer’s 1 year devotional and completed the whole thing. Even though I grew up Catholic and in church, I never really read the Bible. Now I’m reading Jesus Calling and writing out prayers every morning and I just have a certain peace each day that I didn’t have before. Changes are small and gradual, but by seeking Him first, He gives us His peace. (and like 3 years ago, I would have never thought that!) I’m also grateful for our church family, who is our family here in Texas while our loved ones are on both coasts. We’ve been serving with the high school ministry for the last year, and it’s been wonderful to see life change in the lives of young people and God moving in their lives too. All in all, big hugs and high fives. P.S. Gracie is the cutest!!!

  64. Blythe K

    I got married in January….over the past 6 months the lord has truly taken care of us and helped my new husband and I through a move to the midwest, a surprise that I needed surgery this past spring, and then losing my job (the day after my surgery). He’s blessed us with a speedy recovery, the truly amazing gift of keeping us above water with our finances, and a new job for myself! It’s been a crazy 6 months for us as newlyweds and we’ve become so strong because of it. We are so grateful for his love and care for us and our marriage as we’ve had so many surprises over our first few months. xoxo Blythe

  65. Sandra K

    I am so grateful for everything in my life – seriously! I love my husband, he is my best friend. God blessed me with two amazing, healthy and spunky children – a son and a daughter who bring me such joy!

    My life has been guided and supported by two selfless, loving parents.

    I love my job – it fulfills me while giving me tremendous flexibility as a working mother.

    God is so, so good.

    P.S. I’m more confident – that’s how I’ve changed over the past few years.

    Peace andblessings to y’all!

  66. Allison Nance

    Oh Lara, you ARE such a light for Jesus and it’s so easy to see His encouragement for all of us in your writing! Over the last year especially, I feel like God has been leading me to banish all of the fear and worry that I put on myself regarding my business, my family and the future. Without going into too much detail, my husband and I have had a crazy last year – moving 3 times and having to live apart for about five months. It was very difficult but God took the difficult times and really used it to better refine us for each other! Especially over the last few months as we are living in the same place again, I have noticed that the fear and worry is no longer there – not simply or slowly going away or melting away over time, but just vanished – as if it never existed! God has filled me with his love and taken away everything I used to worry about and fear. I am so grateful for this and His constant love for me.

  67. Michele

    Three years ago, my life was turned upside down and inside out when my husband chose to abandon our marriage. Today would have been our fourteenth anniversary-our divorce was final three months ago. God has held me, provided for me, comforted me, challenged me, and become so very real to me…while I wouldn’t have chosen this path, I wouldn’t change it. I’m grateful that He has given me a great family, friends and coworkers (who have become family!) to come alongside me (I work in a marriage and family ministry) and be His hands and feet in so many tangible ways. My performance review this year included a challenge to seek what He has planned for me, develop a mission statement and find a mentor…I’m incredibly blessed to have a boss who has become somewhat of a second dad, and encourages me to focus on this as a new beginning, not an ending. Thank you so much for your honesty and transparency! You have been so inspiring as I start this journey. I’ve got my powersheets and my instructions – I’m excited to see what He has in store for me !

  68. Diana

    Lara, I’ve never commented on your posts before, but I relish each and every one of them you write. You are such a blessing in my life in so many ways. I thank God for you!

  69. SW5

    How my life has changed… My 2013 got off to a rocky start. I found out my husband of only 3 years was having an affair, so I’ve since left him. After leaving him, my heart was broken but open, and I was able to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which opened my eyes to the kind of person my husband really is and the bad intentions he has always had with me. Instead of looking at this as a curse, I’ve been able to receive it as a blessing that God cared enough to pull me out of the damaging situation I was in. My eyes are looking up now and I hope to be able to move to Australia for a year and see how God will use me there. I am still praying for his direction, and I’m so happy that I’ve found your blog to start taking some positive steps towards making things happen! Thank you for being a light! 🙂

  70. Angela Reed

    Hi Lara! It’s Angela! ( the one who registered to attend the event and ended up at the doctor’s office instead!) Thanks for posting the Mart trip on the blog! Just like being there! Hope to see you in September!

    • Lara

      Yay, Angela! I hope to see you in September, too! Sorry you missed it but I’m so glad I’ll be back!

  71. Hillary

    I’m actually in the middle of several life changes and I am thankful that I finally feel at peace with everything. Change is very scary but I have learned, thankful through God’s teachings, that this is what is meant to happen. After many, many, many years and a few ups and downs, I finally understand that I am not in control. HE is. what HE believes is the best for me is what is going to happen to me. I cannot express enough how much stress has been lifted and how much LESS worrying I do now because of this realization. Also, thank you Lara for opening up your heart and allowing your vulnerability to show.

    Hillary S.

  72. Abi Losli

    I’m grateful for all the things! Especially audiobooks, simple summer days and starting fresh every morning. It’s really amazing how much my life has changed, even just in the last 4 years. It actually makes me cry happy tears. God has blessed me so abundantly. I probably need to devote a blog post of my own to this. 4 years ago I was in an unhealthy, messy, emotionally-draining relationship, 3.5 years ago I choose God and healthy community over chemistry and pretend happiness. 2 years ago I met this adorable man who loves Jesus and people with all of his heart. One year ago I married that man. Today I’m looking up from the ordinary and I’m overwhelmed in the best way possible by God’s goodness and perfect timing.

  73. Kristin Brown

    I’m grateful for how God has so obviously blessed and provided for me lately. I have felt His influence in some pretty major ways these last few weeks (miraculously finding an apartment for a last-minute move to LA, me getting another job which will allow us to financially survive the next few months, learning to be okay with infertility, among a few other other things!). It’s been such a blessing to know God is aware of me and see His hand in my life.

  74. KellyW

    I am grateful for a somewhat slower pace of summer. With teenagers in the house, we operate at warp speed most of the time. Summer gives us a bit of a pause in the hustle. I am savoring each and every moment with them – not many of these summers left.

  75. Sara

    One way I have changed in the past year is that my relationship with my MIL has been healed. My heart has softened toward her and I can say that I am truly grateful for her and what He has done to our relationship.

  76. Lucinda

    I’m so grateful for second chances. Through all my shortcomings, he continues to bless me and my family.

  77. Elva Conforti

    I am grateful for my life. The life God has chosen for me. The life He has been planning for me since the day I was born. The biggest change and challenge in my life right now is that I am mom. He made me a mom to a beautiful, healthy baby girl and now I am responsible for bringing up His precious child. I pray every day that He guides me to be the best I can for her.

  78. Sarah

    Lara, I just discovered your blog. I am recently engaged, working in advertising and running myself into the ground. This post was a kick in the pants; I made my fiancé read your story! Thank you for encouragement and assurance that I am not alone.

  79. Gina

    I am most grateful for my family. They are my treasure. My oldest son is leaving for college in less than a month. I am tremendously grateful he is going forth into his future. I am grateful to feel the presence of God as I go through this life transition.

  80. Cammie \\ Polka Dotted Peony

    Several years ago, I travelled to Kenya to work alongside a wonderful Kenyan organization called Beacon of Hope. I loved so much interacting with all the children, and after returning home, promised myself if I ever got a chance to go back, I’d bring an instant camera. The children rarely have access to mirrors, and LOVE seeing what they look like. I would have loved to leave with them pictures of themselves and their beautiful smiles.

  81. Caroline Simas

    Oh Lara….how I wish I had met you during Atlanta market! I was running to and from meetings and showrooms (which I tryly enjoy) -I am so blessed to be a licensed artist designing faith-based products for over a dozen manufacturers. I am the artist who designed the Grace goodies in the basket that Lauren and Jamie brought to you, and I am a mom of four in Charlotte, N.C. My partnership with Bridgewater Candle Company has been an incredible joy. You may know this but every time a jar candle sells it feeds an orphan for a day. I was fortunate to travel to Honduras with a team from Bridgewater last October and I saw first-hand how these children are directly blessed from the sales. I’m really not sure where to start about what I am grate for for…the list is so long and you may not have enough space here. The Lord continues to blow me away with His goodness. I marvel at the way He has intricately woven people into my life over the last few years. I thank Him often for the blessings which have come from those friendships. I am grateful for family and friends and healthy children. I am grateful to my parents for nurturing my love for art at an early age. I am grateful to my husband who has loved and supported this dream of mine for a very long time. I am grateful for the way the Lord has grown my brand, Multiple Blessings to be a ministry in a way of designing joyful, and uplifting products with messages of faith and hope. And I pray these products are filling homes all over the world and touching lives. And they seem to be, because folks are reaching out and telling me so, which makes all the hours of design work so worthwhile and better than any royalty check I have ever received. I am grateful for manufacturers I work with being bold by taking the leap of faith and adding scripture to the products we’re designing. I am grateful that I get to wake up and live my passion out loud every day. I am grateful to a God who loves me when I mess up (often) and gently directs me back on track. I am grateful for my amazing summer intern whose light for Christ shines so brightly I need to wear sunglasses in the studio! Oh, the list goes on and on. So Lara….I love your story, love what you have done and are doing, love the magazine, & love that you are giving glory to God and pointing others to Him. Praise be to God from whom ALL blessings flow! Blessings, Caroline

    • Lara

      Caroline!!! Oh my stars, I am SO grateful for the amazing gift basket with your incredible designs. That made my heart so full! I am praying for you and so happy to have you here : )

    • Caroline Simas

      Wanted to let you know I wrote about you on my blog and linked back to here also:) http://www.multipleblessings.net/blog/family-life/news-from-the-studio-and-home-front/#.UfXYJRYlZGE

  82. Crystal Shearer

    I am so grateful to have Jesus, my family, and friends. In the last few years I’ve weathered many storms but through it all I can see where God has been drawing me closer and closer to him.

  83. Taylor Barton

    I am grateful that God has blessed me in so many ways, especially this year. I’m grateful for your Powersheets (though only halfway through the Goal Setting section), and that they’ve already ignited a change within me– especially feelings of anticipation, of excitement, and of fear for what’s next in my life. I’m grateful for this blog post, as “Asking,” “Seeking,” and “Knocking” is just the answer I needed to surrender these new fears to God and let Him take me where He needs me to go. Thank you for your wisdom and grace!

  84. Nicole Matteson

    I am grateful for my relationship with God. My husband was in a motorcycle accident nearly 2 years ago and it shook our entire world. We had a 4 month old and a 3 year old at the time, and in one split second, our lives were turned upside down. He survived only by the miracle of God, and although we have had a hard two years with surgeries and recovery, I may not have made it through without relying fully on God. I had great comfort and peace during each procedure and the waiting in the OR waiting room… I knew that God held us in his hand, and there was nothing more comforting! I know that his accident changed the way we interact as husband and wife and the way we live each day as parents, etc. Life can change in one split second, and we try to live each day with more purpose, love and happiness!

  85. Wendi Solari

    Oh Lara, I am so grateful for the girl time I’ve had with my daughters this summer. Summer is typically a slow time for my husband’s business but thank God that he provided a lot of work this summer (albeit long hours – and we miss our guy). I was a little scared to take on the summer essentially as the lone parent with the kids but it has turned out remarkable. I am a little sad that school starts in two weeks.

  86. Elizabeth Chastain

    I’m grateful for my family and my soon to be husband! I’ve changed in the last few years in so many ways, graduating from my masters program, learning what is truly important, and using my time to reflect those changes!

  87. Erin || Sewbon.com

    Thank you so much, Lara, for hosting a great giveaway! You are too kind!

    I’m so grateful for meeting and marrying my best friend. We are coming up on our 1 year anniversary and I feel beyond blessed that I have such a great friend, partner, advocate, supporter, and protector. I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for us!

  88. Carrie Moe

    Greatful for my precious baby Jack. We waited 4 years for him and never thought it would happen. During those 4 years I learned so much about the goodness of God and His deep unchanging love He has for his children. I’m thankful for those 4 years of trial (even though I’m glad they are over) they changed me and as a result I have a deep unshakable joy in Him!

  89. Erin

    I am more confident in the business realm. Taking charge of my feelings and seeking out Godly women who are successful has really helped me see how God is FOR me and not against the talents He has gifted me with.

  90. Kaitlin Briley

    I love your heart for the Lord and for people! It’s such an encouragement.

    Over the past few years God has redeemed me and blessed me beyond anything I could ever think or imagine. The Gospel changed everything. The Lord blessed me with a boyfriend who is a strong, God fearing leader; taught me so much about family, home, and marriage through witnessing and struggling with my parents divorce; revealed to me the path of starting Simply Put and gave me the strength and blessing to make it a real thing. And trust, I have learned so so much about trusting the Lord with ALL of it!

  91. Shelby

    I am so grateful for patience. Not only mine, but other’s patience with me as I have changed and grown over the past few years. I was quite naive (still am, but less!) and I had narrow & selfish views. Luckily, time, patience, and prayer has got me closer to the path I want to be on. (Closer yes, although I have leaps and bounds ahead!)

  92. Caitlin

    I am so grateful for the last two years. 2 years and 2 months ago I married my best friend and better half, Jon. After a hard first year we were both feeling called to move out of our hometown in Phoenix and create something new for ourselves. It was so hard because our parents both live there! We made the move to SF a little over a year ago and have been blessed in more ways then I can count. We’ve met amazing friends, taken hold of amazing job opportunities and most importantly had a blast rediscovering our love for each other. Feeling more happy then I thought possible, and thankful that God has been with us each step of the way!

  93. Lorina

    The last few years have been a rollercoaster for me. Prior to starting college I prayed one prayer over and over again “Lord, let Your will be done in my life”
    That single prayer changed me and my life in ways I wouldn’t have been able to believe. It’s a long story but to make it short He tested me, strengthened me, guided me, and amazed me. He took me on a path and taught me all the right things, just to pull me from that path (at the time I was devastated) and put me on a path I never imagined and could not have done well without that training.

    I’m thankfuk for my family and my church and God’s love and guidance.. 🙂

  94. Laura Radniecki

    Hi Lara! My grandfather passed away this month and it has shaken my family and rocked me to my core. True, he was 86 years old, but he had been healthy most of his life, and it really did come as a shock to us all. During the weeks spent by his side in the hospital and home on hospice, I truly began to realize how treasured life is. I often get so caught up in my to do list and in my business. I miss things happening right in front of me.

    I was in charge of making the slideshow for my grandpa’s funeral since I’m a photographer. As I looked through albums and albums of photos from my childhood, I realized how since the invention of a smart phone, I actually have taken a lot less images. I’ve taken instagram snapshots but I haven’t taken purposeful photos and I sure haven’t printed them.

    I need to. I want to .

    If I don’t win the instax camera, I’m buying one asap because I want to start capturing tangible memories and I think that will help!

    Thanks for sharing your heart with us. You are changing lives all around you.

  95. Breelyn McNutt

    What I’m most grateful for is that God gives second chances. Starting out in college I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I took a career path in comm design because being my hobby I was good at it. I had so many distractions, started over sleeping and not going to class. So I prayed about it. I felt so guilty and so embarrassed to make any changes. One day I woke up and I just knew. I completely switched my major and made a total 360 in my life. Now I’m studying to be an RN and I couldn’t feel like this is more than my destiny.

    So I’m grateful for those second chances and the support my friends and family have shown. 🙂

  96. Tara Motes

    My time in graduate school over the past three years changed me for the better. I’ve wanted to go to school for my MSW since I was in college and serving those in rural areas of the NC mountains through mission work ten years ago. Folowing my heart to serve others in a professional setting has opened my eyes and heart to all the different ways that serving others can happen, and has given me a better perspective on the things that really matter in life.

  97. Laura Plouzek

    I’ve been reading since the very first days of SW and it’s been so sweet to watch your journey. Thank you for being a light and an inspiration! I am thankful for my three kids and how they refocus my attention daily (Sometimes hourly) and remind me of all of the sweet things that I often am too “busy” to notice. Becoming a mother was the most monumental change in my entire life and I know that the process has only begun!

  98. Amanda Tan

    I am grateful for God, My Husband, Family and Love.

  99. Jennifer

    I’m grateful for my little family! God has been so gracious & merciful to care for our needs. I’ve learned, since having my baby almost 2 years ago, to do my best and let Him handle the rest. I used to worry so much (well, still do, from time to time) but God has shown me how He will provide and carry us through if only we trust Him!

  100. KSB

    I am grateful for so many things I do not know where to start… my faith, my marriage, my family, and my amazing job. The last few years I have changed by always being thankful and focusing on what matters most in my life, to only remembering what I am grateful for sometimes… and focusing on distractions.

  101. Trina Gibbs

    Simple as this. .. I had a stroke at 29, I found the Bible , starting reading The Word and literally my whole life changed. My marriage, my parenting skills, and my job as a speech therapist instantly became not about me . It’s about others and Christ. Life isn’t perfect… BUT I’m happy and thankful.

  102. Ashley Woods

    I’m grateful for children. I’ve always had a passion for working with them and orphans in particular. And this past June I was given the opportunity to travel to Liberia, Africa to work with an orphanage there. That was a life changing experience for me and it redefined the passion in my heart for the children there. It opened my eyes to the greater need in this world. And for that I’m forever grateful. 🙂

  103. Jodi Krautkramer

    I am so grateful for the simple things in life, the green light on the way to work, an I Love you from my fiance, a thank you note, warm cup of coffee, a roof over my head, and My God that has blessed me with everything in my life!! It should all be cherished, which is why I am so thankful for the gift of photography!

  104. Nikki

    I am grateful for my health, well-being, faith and the people that have been put into my life.

  105. Julie

    So very grateful for ‘health and peace’ in general with my own family. So many sick children in my midsts these days near and far, and one particular family lost their young child in a swimming accident last night. Thankful their is a God who can grant comfort, healing and peace beyond human understanding.

  106. Brittani Croft

    What an inspiring and uplifting blog post 🙂 I am so grateful for MTH in March this year, the leap that I took to attend, and the knowledge that I have gained from the experience and stories I heard. Now I just need a swift kick in the rear to take action. Action is the key!

  107. Vanessa V3

    Man, I got a lot to be grateful for these days. More than anything though, I am grateful for a loving, supportive family and for becoming a mommy. Being a mom has changed the way I think, work, and love and I’ve never felt so alive and empowered before.

  108. Becky Trejo

    I am grateful that God never lets me go. I’m grateful that over this past year, He has opened my eyes anew to what the Gospel truly means! He has snatched up my heart and given me new eyes to see so much I never saw before. In Jesus, He has given me such Freedom (with a capital F!). He has freed me from striving, from trying to earn His favor, from putting myself first, from fighting for my rights. He has made me a servant and He has made my heart glad for it, by the work of the Holy Spirit inside met. What a beautiful, faithful Father I have! My heart sings!

  109. Britany Brownlee

    As always, this was such an inspirational, exceptionally inspiring post! And that is just one of the things I am grateful for 😉 I am grateful that next week I will be celebrating my big ole baby bump making it to full term (with my first lil baby in it) and my second year anniversary. I am grateful for every scary and wonderful thing that has led me to motherhood and being a business owner. I am grateful for my passionate heart that continues to drive me towards my dreams. And I will be forever grateful for my sweet mama, who has been my strength through this crazy beautiful life.

  110. Tonya Booth

    There is a B&B in Saledo TX I love to visit as often as I can at least 3 times a year. It is a place that truly speaks to my soul, God has revealed some incredible things during these times…I prayed quietly for an answer I am seeking and then googled Make Things Happen as this is my desire for the Halftime I have reached in my life, kids are grown and I am entering my next chapter in life. When the google search popped up your website I haven’t been able to stop reading all about you and your life changing blessings. Call me a website stalker, LOL yes you are saved in my favorites on the computer and I just recently ordered your power pack and completed it and on my 6 month journey, I am signed up for the webinar next week…would love to come to the seminar this fall but have a conflict with work….i was at a conference in Atlanta last month and stayed across the street from the mart yes it is huge. Anyway may God continue to bless you and use you for his kingdom work…you are amazing.and so happy I have found you! I am in the process of starting a blog, working on finding the right connection source and need this fine little camera to take some incredible pictures to go with my tidbits with Tonya from Texas! Thanks again…

  111. Melissa

    I’ve learned that my passion is helping others. & I cannot wait to adopt. This thing would be amazing to have to document our new journey!

  112. Bethany Aleshire

    I’m grateful for 3 best friends that see my potential when I can’t + push me when I just want to stay comfortable. These last few years my eyes + heart have been opened to how important + AMAZING it is to experience a relationship with God and that living a wholehearted life is worth it and I CAN do it. Thanks L!

  113. Ciera

    I’m grateful for the amazing friends I’ve made over the past year! They encourage and inspire me like no other! 🙂 Learning lots about grace and finding beauty in the imperfection and messy parts of life. 🙂

  114. Jennifer Jasiczek

    I’m grateful my business is so successful that I’m able to have 80% of my work throughout the year as strictly pro-bono helping smaller local non-profits. These past two years my heart was taken by kids who have Titanium Ribs. I’ve gone from just helping on their fundraising events to running this very small non-profits that serves approximately 60 kids a year! When I’m happy, I parent better, I’m a better wife. All my work for these past 10 years have all come to fruition as I’ve enjoyed all the good I’ve put out there. I really want the instax mini, to continue to document our lives as a family but also when I go to the children’s hospitals here in San Antonio and Philadelphia and soon Children’s in LA to do intakes for the Titanium Rib Foundation. Kudos to your continued success Lara, but mostly importantly on your journey as a mother. Gracie is just so darn cute I want squeeze those cheeks through the screen.

  115. Sarah Delanie

    Beyond grateful for Gods placement of the Shine & Soar Magazine Team girls in my life. I can honestly say, I will never be the same. They encourage, believe & inspire me in ways I will never be able to put in to words. Before meeting them I was in a place of discontent contentment. I had such a heaviness on my heart o abandon the mundane & fight for authenticity to inspire others around me, yet had no clue what that looked like or where to begin. After a year of praying & trusting God to provide a community of young believers chasing their dreams, He proved. My life did a complete 180, I went from being a competitive dancer, completely consumed with myself & my own ambitions, to pursuing a destination wedding photography business & becoming an executive editor for an online magazine, at the age of 16. “Those who run along run fast, but those who run together run far.” All glory to Him.

  116. Mackenzie Kern

    I’m unbelievably thankful for community. For friendship and fellowship with the people I treasure. There is nothing more incredible than seeing change in myself for the better because of the people God has so clearly placed in my life.
    I spent the past week with the kind of girls who change the world, and who have changed and challenged my life in so many ways. We got to play with an instax for a smidge (http://instagram.com/p/cNGg-EP-g8/ ) while we were together and there was nothing sweeter than documenting our fun and having it right in front of us!

  117. gay de villa

    I am thankful for finding your blog today. It was really what I needed! I have been feeling overwhelmed lately with a new job and leaving the one I have been doing for so many years.

    When you said: ” Adventures with God, I’m learning, usually mean that you have to give something up — OK, lots of things — so that He can fill you up to the brim with joy unspeakable.” These words comforted me and made me realize that this is what I need to do.

    Thank you again.

  118. Jenn B

    I am thankful for my family, my fiancé, and my FAITH. I am in law school (heading into my final year! yay!) and I don’t know what I would have done or where I might be it I didn’t have these 3 things in my life. When I was doubting my path in life, they lifted me up. When I needed encouragement I always found the most perfect passages from scripture to cling to.

  119. Courtney

    I’m thankful that today is Friday and the weekend is upon us. I’ll be busy this weekend, but blessed with the busy-ness surrounded by family and friends.

  120. VanessaLim

    Hi 🙂
    I’m grateful for my family and friends’ mostly my friends because without them, I would not have changed in my character, becoming friendlier and more open-minded. Without them, I would not have achieved the things I have today. So, I am very grateful for them to be in my life. And most importantly, helping me to shape the person I am today. 🙂

  121. Cori

    A big change for me is never having time for myself. I have two kids ( 3 & 9 mo) and I work. Trying to juggle being a wife, mom, administrative assistant had been tough and I am inspired by you to make a new change. I cry that I’m too busy and can’t get anything done when I should be rejoicing in all that God gives me. I look forward to tagging along in your journey and learning how to stop , rejoice and be glad. 🙂

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  123. Janelle

    Hi Lara!

    My friend heard you speak at this year’s ENGAGE conference and she was so fired up about what you said, she shared a little bit with me. As time has passed, I have become a big fan of what you stand for and believe that God is using your story, joy and message to also touch my life and has inspired me to seek Him more fully and make some changes in my life. I am 26 years old, newly married and ready for my next adventure with Him. I am ready to do whatever it is that He has created me to do and am inspired on a daily basis by your story.

    Thank you.

    Warmly,
    Janelle

    • Lara

      It’s so wonderful to meet you, Janelle! CONGRATS on your marriage! I am praying for this sweet time to be one filled with His glory and joy, Your heart inspires me!

  124. christine

    Hi Lara! I love your blog and am always so encouraged and inspired through your posts…thank you so much for sharing!

    I am thankful that God is good and that he is my perfect father, and he loves and cares for me as his precious child! I know that sounds super generic. But my whole life I’ve felt so empty and chased after all of these things that I thought might help me to heal, change, get what I needed… But God has been bringing me to this place where I am seeing more and more that he himself is the answer to everything — to all of my needs, all of my heart’s desires. We were created to be in relationship with him, and really that is all that matters because when we are connected with god and in right relationship with him, everything else takes care of itself. I’m so thankful that as alone and unloved as I may feel at times, the truth is i belong to him and he chose me, treasures me, and remembers me always!

  125. jenny

    i am so so grateful for my kids. i have twin boys that are 20 months old and the change that has come from having them is unbelievable. i have grown closer to God in the last 20 months than i have in my entire life – even though i was saved at a young age. life is fuller and richer and deeper now and i am so so grateful that He used my two boys to open my eyes to this deeper life.

  126. Jillian

    I am grateful for my job! I get to work on a team of people whose mission is reaching lost high school students. I wake up on my days off wishing I was going to work. Working at a place surrounded by the body of Christ praying for those who don’t know Him yet makes me so thankful.

  127. Stephanie

    I am grateful to be a college graduate and be getting married all within the same year. My mom died when I was just 15 and while I did well in high school, college was rather difficult. It took me 6 years! Being 25 and just graduating was not easy since all my friends finished at 21-22 but I am so grateful to have a degree! During college, I found a guy who asked me to marry him and then he left me 4 months before the wedding. Needless to say, I was heartbroken but continued my education. After a year of just having time to myself, God brought a wonderful man into my life and we are getting married in just 100 days and I am so excited to begin my life as a youth ministers wife!

    • Lara

      Wow, this is all so incredible! God has done great things with your journey – truly inspiring! : )

  128. Celia G.

    OH MAN: ” Change doesn’t have to be a giant leap. Even the tiniest changes add up to a completely new life — a brilliant horizon.” I needed to hear that, Lara. I’ve been struggling this past year and especially more this summer with my creative journey and often find myself at the brink of giving up and deciding to, maybe, try again down the road. Ironically, idea overwhelms and upsets me more! I just loved reading this post and seeing all the bright, wonderful faces… I hope I, too, one day can meet you. In the meantime, I look forward to hearing more about your new adventures!

  129. gigi kennedy

    I’m really grateful right now for my husband. he works SO hard supporting our family, sacrificing so much comfort and lots of sleep. He does without so much so that the kids & I can have. In September we will be married for 17 years (gah!!! how did that happen!!!) and it has been over these past few years that I have really come to see how blessed I am to have such a wonderful partner in life. He is steadfast in his love and faithfulness and always makes me laugh. God is SO good!!!

  130. Melanie

    I’m so very grateful for my Husband. He is such a good man and such a blessing to me. (He was the one that encouraged me to attend MTH – ATL 2012!) I was solidly single just a few short years ago, very happy and secure in my profession. Now in August, we will be celebrating our third wedding anniversary! In three years I’ve changed my name, we’ve mourned and buried a parent, survived a layoff and subsequent job change, endured the many re-assignments of another job, been made an Uncle & an Aunt, sold my first home during the height of a buyer’s market, and learned to file our taxes “jointly.” In September we will finally be taking our honeymoon… better late than never! I look forward with excited anticipation to the many more changes that we will face together.

  131. Gina

    I’m ever so thankful for my dogs. I know it sounds crazy, but they are funny, loving and always happy to see me! I can’t imagine life without their furry faces.

  132. Allison

    I’m grateful for the holiness of God…knowing that He knows and has already planned out all things, makes all the ups and downs easier to be joyful in 🙂

    As for change, I am very happy to be a part of a new (to me) church!

  133. Stephanie O

    My chance this year has been small. I have decided to go through our whole house and organizer or at least sort everything. Next year will be the year full of big change; baby in Feb, husband retires from Navy in Sept, moving from VA to MI. Plus new job, schools, and weather.

  134. Lauren

    I’m grateful for my family!!

  135. LizzG

    I am grateful for the Lord’s passion for teenagers that has been deeply rooted in my heart and this year on my 6 th year of teaching Art will become a daily reality. He is faithful and steadfast in every way! He even pointed me to your blog today…I’ve been wanting a Fuji!!!

  136. Carmen

    I’m grateful for August 1. I’m grateful that God gives me, like King David, a second chance to be great for Him even after we’ve totally messed it up.
    I’m grateful for my plate, that seems soo full right now. I totally fill constantly behind on all my to-do-list. I’m grateful that I said no to some thing even the important things- like leading another bible study class this month.
    I’m grateful for the tears I cried all last week. Every moment clingling and journaling. I’m grateful that today is a new day. I’m grateful for August 1.

  137. Amanda

    Hi. I’ve been changed by the birth of my son this past February. He has changed my priorities. And God has used Him to get my priorities back in place. Because success isn’t measured by how many clients you have, or how much money you make. It’s measured in teaching a tiny heart to love Jesus because he saved you.

  138. Liz B

    Hi, I have been changed by watching someone very dear to me’s marriage break down. It has made me focus on actively working on my marriage, focusing on what is important and accepting the need to be honourable and generous in my day to day life. I love your blog and hope to learn more from you. Thank you from the UK.

  139. Karen O

    Love the Blog

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  141. Allie Ganoe

    I had no real purpose in my life after being in a car accident and breaking a lot of bones. A lady I know introduce me to a women who owns an eclectic shop and I help out a couple of days a week there. We have now become good friends and are truly grateful for what we have brought into each other’s life. We laugh and have a deep trust level with each other. The biggest surprise is just being me and asking for direction has given me a purpose to help her make her shop the best it can be. To my surprise I am the one she picked to go to The Americas Apparel Mart with her out of all the people she knows. Thank God I am at peace in my life and the ability to help someone I thought was just gonna help me. My fears and insecurities have dropped into the background of my life