I am going to try something new the next weeks: writing blog posts and not stressing over them being perfect. DONE is better than perfect and, though I have a lot lot lot of writing to do in the next 12 weeks (more on that next), I also feel called to write a lot here. I want to practice writing here most days and just getting the thoughts out of my head. Done is better than perfect. Because the good we know we ought to do and — the good we know we ought to share online — can stay in our heads or we can DO something about it. Done is far better than perfect. So, here goes! Photos in the post taken last week by my amazing friend, Gina. I love you, G! I don’t usually wear makeup often, so I wanted photos taken for Grace in the same way she would remember me every day : )
I wrote a series on Goal Setting & Setting Yourself Up for Success at the start of this year because I got really tired of NOT making progress on the things that matter most. In fact, I realized I didn’t know what truly mattered most to me. I didn’t want to end another year with regret about things I could have accomplished if I had just taken tiny steps along the way to make them happen. I got really tired of looking back and realizing how much time I wasted on worry and things that distracted me from my purpose. I started this year with one main goal in mind and several that branch out from it: to know God more and walk in His ways. I wanted to finally do the things I’ve always had on my heart to do. I wanted to make LIFE happen. Turns out, a lot of you felt the same way.
The big morning stretch!
I updated you with my first round of progress on April 10 and our second update was supposed to be on July 10th, but I posted on August 8th with this update. And I am, once again, a couple weeks late to update you, but here I am. Welcome to round three of my 2013 Goal Progress!
If you are stumbling on my blog for the first time, or if you need to start fresh, below are the links to get you moving. It doesn’t matter that it’s almost November. It’s NEVER to late to do what matters and start LIVING. Today is the day — YOUR day to start making it happen, to get back on track, or to choose a new track entirely!
A few updates since my last check-in!
– I spoke at 8 conferences in the last 12 weeks. 8! And I loved every single one of them. I would do this year all over again with speaking. It was so gratifying. Full recaps of my summer/fall speaking coming soon!
– We got SouthernWeddings.com! Oh my stars, this feels so good. Read the whole story here.
– We took a family vacation to Beaches. More on that trip soon too. It was so good and so needed. We also visited the Grove Park Inn as a family and I took Grace to see my parents in Florida.
– My Grandma Bunny was diagnosed with mouth cancer and, at the age of 96, started radiation treatments 5.5 weeks ago. She is not cured, but has responded well to them. Her cancer has shrunk significantly, which is more than we could have asked for! Her final treatment is tomorrow. Amen, hallelujah, thank you Lord!
– We did approximately 8 trillion photo shoots for the next issue of Southern Weddings
– We completed our 6th print edition (“V6”) of Southern Weddings and sent it off to print last week. We get the copies later this week!
– I got to spend lots of face-to-face time with my friends, Emily Ley and Gina Zeidler as we travelled to speak at the Pursuit 31 Conference together and did the Making Things Happen Conference here together last week. I am so blessed by them.
In case you missed the GOAL SETTING + MAKING THINGS HAPPEN posts, it’s never too late to start now!
GOAL SETTING FOR 2013, Part 1
GOAL SETTING FOR 2013, Part 2
GOAL SETTING FOR 2013, Part 3
GOAL SETTING FOR 2013, Part 4
GOAL SETTING FOR 2013, Part 5
MAKING THINGS HAPPEN IN 2013: CLEAR THE CLUTTER
MAKING THINGS HAPPEN IN 2013: PREPARE FOR GREATNESS
MAKING THINGS HAPPEN IN 2013: TAKE A BREAK!
MAKING THINGS HAPPEN IN 2013: NAME YOUR FEAR
MAKING THINGS HAPPEN IN 2013: CREATE BOUNDARIES
MAKING THINGS HAPPEN IN 2013: ENCOURAGE OTHERS
MAKING THINGS HAPPEN IN 2013: THE BIG LIST
If you started with me on your goal setting in January or even if you’re new here (welcome!), I’d love to hear about your progress, big or small. The goal is PROGRESS NOT PERFECTION. Honest updates will help you move forward. So, weigh in below. I hope to encourage you or pray for you. And you just might inspire someone else with your comment!
— MY 2013 Goals —
Goal 1: To know God more by learning about Him in the Bible and through prayer because knowing God means I will know what is right and good and He will direct my path. Everything good comes from that. God is my compass. I want to know everything I can possibly know about God so I can align my life with His will. I want to know God so I can change for the better for everyone in my life. I want to study the Bible and pray without ceasing. That means a lot of things, namely less time in my phone and on email and on extraneous projects and more focused time without distractions, reading. My goal in short: read and pray daily. Repeat.
// YES! I finished reading the Old Testament and am plugging along with the New Testament. This has proven challenging because the NT is so packed with goodness that I keep wanting to take it in very slowly. But, I hope to be finished with the Bible completely by December 31. That will be something to celebrate!
Goal 2: I want Ari and I to have a more thriving joyful marriage because that will help us be our best for each other and Grace and everyone in our lives. Because we are stronger as individuals when we are stronger as a couple. Last year was truly a year of transition and miracles and this year, I want to celebrate life more together. I want to make Ari feel special and help him be his best. I want to open my heart and let him in more. I know I have a self-protecting wall up most of the time. I want to learn more about what God wants for our marriage and I want to DO those things. I want to help other couples do those things, too. I want to lead by example, in our failures and triumphs.
// If you want to know more about our story, read here and you can hear our whole story live on camera in the Amazing Life Together recordings. In our marriage, we have been praying a lot together and separately about what God wants for our family – adoption, more children, where to plant the seeds of our resources and how He wants us to use our time.
Goal 3: I want to become more physically strong so I can be full of energy to do God’s work every day and give to others. I stopped weight training last year and that is the longest time I’ve been out of the gym. I want to be physically strong so I can live a long healthy active life and be able to teach Grace about God and how to live a good life through my actions. I want to fuel my body to do good things. I want to recognize when I am tempted to use food to control my emotions and choose God instead through prayer, reading, stepping outside to take a deep breath or just by being still and having a good cry if I need to.
// I have been a bit off-track with the
weather change stress of having too much on my plate the last weeks. I learned in this season that all we can do is do what is right in front of us. We cannot predict tomorrow. One day at a time : ) And so, I am trying to get my fitness focus back one day at a time too. I still get up to exercise every day, but pushing myself to workout hard has been well… hard. I am glad I’m doing this update for accountability and to remember WHY I want to be strong in the first place!
Goal 4: I want to stop breastfeeding, Lord willing, by Valentines day (I started weaning last week) and stay emotionally fit, despite the hormonal changes. I want to keep my energy up and give thanks, despite my current feelings (imagine if you didn’t have a period for two years and your hormones decided to start creating one… that’s where I am). I want to do whatever I can naturally to regulate my hormones so that I can be my best for my family, my staff and my friends. I also really want those 3+ hours a day back to do more for God every day. And, at the same time, I don’t want to lose the beautiful thing I have learned in all of this – that taking time to be still during the day is a very good thing.
// Check! Read my update from April for the details on how I stopped. Done and done.
Goal 5: I want to be humble and learn a lot this year about a lot of things so I can do what I do well. I want to learn skills that will help me be a light for other’s to know God. I want to be a better more skilled designer so I can spend less time creating graphics and so I can create inspiring products that help people focus on what is good in life. I want to learn to be a better leader so I can build my team up and equip them to do the same for others. I want to learn how to cook special dishes that make my family feel special. I want to learn how to keep plants alive more than a few weeks. I want to continue my calligraphy training so that I can write beautiful letters to special friends. I want to learn how to be a better writer so I can communicate my thoughts in a more compelling authentic way. I want to learn how to do my job in a more direct, powerful, efficient way so I can make more of an impact on everyone I meet. I want to learn more about investing and finances so I can be a better steward of our money. I want to learn so I can give more.
// Design – Nicole has continued to teach me so much through all we’ve been doing with our print magazine. Leading – I’ve focused so much on our company mission in my speaking engagements, so leading from that core has been fairly easy. I am so grateful for a team of women who are just as passionate about our core mission as I am! Cooking – My garden has been one of my greatest joys the last months. We’ve harvested hundreds of tomatoes and I’ve had so much fun tending the garden with Grace. Eating straight from our garden is so satisfying! Plants – Yes, as you can see I love my garden! I am sad it is close to the time when my annuals will fade away, but I will have fun during the winter planning for spring goodies. We did plant kale and lettuce for fall though and it’s looking beautiful! Calligraphy – I stopped my calligraphy training to focus on other priorities. Writing – Well, I have a book to write now. A whole separate post coming on this. There is a lot of writing in my future! Job efficiency – Yes, we had a great meeting recently about profitability and how we use our time as a team. I do feel very efficient with my time and priorities now as compared to the start of the year! Finances – This continues to be the biggest answered prayer in this category. We now have a clear personal budget, a savings and investment plan (with many thanks to our dear friend and financial coach Will Ray!) and I hired a new accountant for our business who has been so helpful thus far. Guys, I can’t tell you what a relief all of this is! Being able to know where we can invest time and resources and where we need to scale back is a huge blessing.
Goal 6: I want to learn how to be more efficient and reach more people with less time away from my family. I want to spend less time on the phone with clients and far less timing emailing. My goal is to find revenue streams this year that are more automated, yet help people in a profound personal way.
// Yes, our shop has done well and I’ve continued to fight for my boundaries to keep my time focused on what matters. Read more about how I set boundaries here. I’m done with consulting and branding work for the year so I can focus on getting my book done, so my time has been streamlined. I am in the process of planning my 2014 speaking calendar, too, and have only accepted one speaking engagement thus far. Speaking gives me the opportunity to affect more people at once and therefore spend less time on the computer or in sessions. I’m excited to be speaking at the Bliss and Bespoke retreat in Charleston in February. If you are interested in having me come to your conference to speak, I’d love to hear from you as I’m blocking off my time for 2014 now. You can read more info here!
Goal 7: I want to learn how to be a better mom. I currently don’t read anything on parenting. I fly by the seat of my pants. I want to learn from others who do it well and become a mother full of wisdom so that Grace can be her best under our care. I want to raise her to be giving and pure and to have a heart of grateful JOY. I want to help Grace have more play friends and be a living example of the Bible for her in our actions. I want to be much more patient and less controlling and let go of my life so I can live in hers.
// I don’t even know where to begin with this update. I’ll just give you a little glimpse into my world with the sweetest little monkey on the earth. Late last night as I tried to calm Grace to get her to sleep (poor thing has a bad cold right now), she suddenly starts praying:
(clasping her little hands together and squinting her eyes so she can still see) Thank you God for Daddy. Thank you God for helping me. Amen!
And then she proceeded to sing a mashup of Twinkle Twinkle and Old MacDonald. DJ Grace is the cutest. Then, mid-song, she looks at me in dark room, by the light of the moon coming through the window and says, “I love you so much mama.” Melt my soul. It’s moments like that that make me forget the constant toddler tantrums and separation anxiety that we weather daily. Each challenge is an opportunity to teach her to know God’s heart and — though I fail at it daily — teaching her that is one of my greatest joys. Showing her compassion and how to love others and how to say “I’m sorry” and how to celebrate life all make my mama heart very full. We’ve had a lot of adventures together lately and I love my time with her. Even when she refuses to clean up her messes and hits me with lollipops (yes that happened today).
Goal 8: I want to continue to build a remarkable business that is a catalyst for real LOVE. I want my clients to have better LIVES and I want our brides to have strong MARRIAGES. I want to be a centered sounding board and prayerfully guide my clients this year to their fullest potential. My goal is to always come back to our CORE and to keep refining it.
// YES YES and YES! This update continues to stay strong and I am so grateful. It becomes clearer and clear to me by the day that, the more we focus on our core and refine it to align with God’s will, the more powerful our work is on all levels. Our core mission is to inspire brides to cultivate a life full of love – celebrating their families, the rich culture of the South and what matters most to them – and then to draw from that rich well to create a meaningful beginning to married life! Through our weekly staff meetings and all of the decisions we make, we come back to this core mission daily and it clarifies everything. We’ve had SO many great staff meetings lately centered on our core and taking action on that daily. I am so grateful for Nicole, Emily, Marissa, Kristin and Lisa!
Goal 9: To learn how to take better photographs for myself so that I can remember Grace as she is in these sweet moments. I am not really sure why for this goal. It feels like a very God-centered goal, but it’s something I can’t explain. I have this connection to great photographs… they somehow speak to my soul. They change me. I think a gift God gave me was to be able to see the vision of a photograph to create. I can see moments and the big picture and a vision. I don’t have the technical skills to match that to capture the moments I see, if that makes sense. I even bought a great camera last year. It hasn’t been used yet because I get really frustrated with technology and numbers and learning new skills that I have to read a manual for. I want to learn the technical skills of how to take the photographs that I see in my heart.
// I’ve learned a lot about light and processing lately just through observing others and studying. But, for now, I’m leaving this to the pros!
Goal 10: I want to live with less, keep a new budget based on the historical data we have from 2012, and be more frugal this year because my money is not mine. It’s God’s and I want to do more with our money for Him. I want to not only give away things I don’t need, but give away things I love. Ari is really good at this. His favorite sweater was in our charity pile this weekend and, when I asked him about it, he said he said that it wasn’t really giving unless you were giving something you didn’t want to give away for the sake of someone else. I love that. I want to be more sacrificial in my giving.
// We can’t take our stuff to Heaven with us. I have so much growing to do here, but I am so grateful for how God is changing our family in this realm. I read Interrupted and it further convicted me that my heart needs to change more and more to be like Him. So, I started the Contentment Challenge at the start of September. Not shopping for things I don’t need hasn’t been hard. At all. It’s giving things away and living sacrificially that has been a huge challenge on my heart. More to come here.
Goal 11: I want to build other’s up in faith and give lots of tools this year for people to make that happen. I want to study the Bible with others in my home and online. Going back to goal 1, I want to know the Bible so I can share it with others. Showing people the new life that I have been given and the indescribable JOY and freedom and love and genuine purpose I have found in this new life… well, that is something I want to share. Big time. If you were to find the most beautiful island in the world, you would want to invite all your friends. That’s how I feel about being in a relationship with God. I want everyone to be able to feel this goodness. I want to equip people with basic tools to know God more.
// With my book manuscript due at the end of January, I’ve had to table the in-person Bible study. I did, however, write to our women’s ministry leader to tell her I was interested in doing this so we are going to meet one afternoon to talk about it. I so badly want more time to be able to learn and study more so I am better equipped to teach God’s word to others. I have been so convicted by Bob Goff talking to us at Pursuit 31 about how we need to stop agreeing with Jesus and DO something about who He is. I want to live that. So much. I want to have Bible doings instead of Bible studies.
Goal 12: I want to finally WRITE MY BOOK. I already have most of the content written and just need to put it together. Nicole and I started talking about the printing and technical aspects of this before the end of the year, so it’s in the works. My goal is to release it before the end of 2013, if not sooner. I want it to be timeless and done well so it will help creatives make things happen year after year. I want it to be a legacy for Grace to learn from as well.
// I signed my contract with Thomas Nelson/Harper Collins last week. I am pretty afraid to write this book, but slowly God is giving me clarity. This update is not wrapped up in a pretty bow yet. Check back with me in January : ) My manuscript is due January 31, 2014 and the book debuts in January 2015!
Goal 13: I want to continue to paint and create products for small creative spaces that inspire people to live better lives. God is the ultimate creator and I believe He gave all of us creative talents that are meant to be USED. I want to use my creative gifts much more this year: design, painting and singing.
// We successfully launched the Lara Casey Shop in February and sales have been very consistent with little to no marketing. The PowerSheets have been our most popular product besides the AMEN print (my favorite), and have sold out now six times. My own PowerSheets have been an exercise in discipline and have challenged me to take action on my goals and never tarry. Painting – I finally painted the giant 5 foot canvas in our living room! YES! Singing – I love singing with Gracie and that is plenty for me right now.
Goal 14: An immediate goal I have is to finish my website. It’s been over a year in the making and it’s a monster. The coding is almost done, my shop is populated and I just have a lot of site content to populate now. I’m hoping we can launch it late this month!
// DONE! We launched and I still love this site more than all the Luna Bars and chickens in the world! OK, maybe not more than chickens.
Goal 15: I want to foster my friendships is a purposeful, focused way because then I will build a stronger bond with my friends and we can do more good things for others together. I want to be more prayerful for my friends, even when they don’t know it. I want to do surprise things for them to make them feel special and build their faith and capacity to love.
// One of my PowerSheets goals has continued to be to pray for my friends often. Ari and I pray for friends at dinner as well. I still long for “dear friends” (here locally) as the Bible describes them. More on my recent friendship thoughts here.
Goals 16: I want to support new moms more. I had a really hard time after Grace was born and several friends sent me care packages that really made a difference. I started a new moms group and my goal is to have several care packages and cards ready to go for new mamas and expecting mama friends that I can send out right away. I want to support new moms locally, too.
// I have shifted my focus to praying for friends who are going through infertility and those who are pursuing adoption. God just has both of those things on my heart lately.
Goal 17: I want to send more real mail to build stronger connections with others, because hopefully it will help people feel God’s love.
// I sent a big bunch of cards and letters out last week and am working on some new shop products for 2014 that will help all of us stay connected the old fashioned way : )
Goal 18: I want to do more random acts of kindness. As often as possible because these things can help people feel hope and know that God is good. A little kindness can change someone’s life for the better.
// I want to do more of this. That is all.
Goal 19: I want to show my family God’s love through my actions so that they will know Him more and trust in Him. My family is going through a lot right now. They need a lot of love. My goal is to be sacrificial with my time and resources so I can support them and take care of them in their distress.
// Yes! I was able to go visit them in September and it was so good to be home. And, like I mentioned above, my Grandma Bunny was diagnosed with mouth cancer. At the age of 96, she started radiation treatments 5.5 weeks ago. She is not cured, but has responded well to them. Her cancer has shrunk significantly, which is more than we could have asked for! Her final treatment is tomorrow. Amen, hallelujah, thank you Lord!
Goal 20: I want to be like Moses this year in the way he trusted and just DID what God said to do. He let God use him. I want to be open to change and trust that God always has the perfect plan. No matter what.
// I have had to step out on faith in so many arenas lately. I keep saying that I don’t feel equipped and the truth is that I am not equipped. But, He is.
I can do all this through him who gives me strength. – Phil 4:13
So, what is it that you want to make happen? Comment below to tell me about your progress this year, what’s been a challenge for you, and what you look forward to ahead. We’ll check in again before the end of the year! Wow, time is flying! I want to hear from you this week so I can hopefully encourage you and so you can also encourage each other. Make it happen, friends. No more lurking. Making things happen means taking action. So, fill me in! Remember, this is about PROGRESS, not perfection. It’s never too late to start. Start today.