HAPPY 2014!!! Welcome to a brand new year, friends. If you are just joining us, you are in the right place : ) It’s never too late to start this process and spread the word to your friends to have them join you, too. Here are the previous posts:
My answers from Part 3, starting with my 2014 Vision:
Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses? Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:36-40 NIV)
My 2014 vision. OK. I’m going to walk you through my honest thoughts today as I uncover this. Honestly, my brain feels so full lately with traveling and giving my whole attention and love to family and trying to write my book and being a mama and a wife and a business owner. Those things don’t go on Christmas vacation. So, I am taking it day by day to love The Lord with all of me and through all of this. Your instinct as you read this night be to say, “Well, Lara, take a break! Relax!” You see, though, God doesn’t tell us to seek pleasure or a life where we just coast. He sometimes calls us in seasons of our lives to rise up and let Him work profoundly in us to accomplish far more than we can on our own. I’m in one of those seasons and I am praying for Him to use me. In these seasons, and always, He tells us to work hard and let Him fill us with a kind of rest that a vacation just can’t accomplish. It’s 20 levels deeper. If you read Proverbs 31, you see a woman who works hard for what matters, rising at dawn and using all she has for her family and others. And then she rests in Him. But, lately I’ve been falling into the trap of self-doubt during some of that rest time. My brain has been spinning a bit, thinking that I cannot write a great book or be a great mom or have as good of a year in business as last year. But. But! Then I remember the greatest lesson I learned from 2013: His plans are far bigger than mine. He is bigger than me and what I can do on my own. He is in control. My job is to simply trust and obey.
(and I just took a deep breath)
Trust and obey. (Anyone love that old hymn as much as I do?) I typed this out because I don’t want you to think any of this just naturally happens. I struggle and, when I stop to have a literal “come to Jesus” moment with myself, all becomes well. It is well with my soul. That’s what God’s peace does. My physical circumstances haven’t magically changed. But He changes my heart and that, in turn, helps me change my vision from cloudy to clear in an instant. This is why I have to stay in the Word and focused on Him, because it is so easy to forget the truth.
So, my 2014 Vision is to be clear. To see God’s heart clearly and my heart clearly — no matter how messy sometimes — and to keep aligning my heart with His. My 2014 Vision is to love my neighbor as myself by sharing the clear truth that has changed and continues to change me. My 2014 Vision is to couple boldness with tenderness, knowing I am weak and that I can’t do anything good without Him, and to speak the truth in love to others. I want to use all of the gifts He has given me and give them all away.
To borrow a powerful phrase from my friends Jessi and Hayley, my 2014 Vision is to be “wild and free” for Him in spreading the Gospel and living in His joy. My 2014 Vision is to see through His lenses and do something — everything — about it.
Having defined that, now here is what is NOT in my 2014 Vision and what I’m saying NO to in 2014:
- Self-doubt. I’m redefining that today after what God just taught me. I should doubt my own abilities on my own, but I can have FULL confidence in His power and plan, whatever that may be.
- Eating junk. With the last part of 2014 being so busy, I went to sugary foods — ice cream, candy, too many Luna bars when I was on the go — to fill what needed to be filled with good fuel. Ari and I started a modified Daniel fast today for January. For Him it’s “no meats, sweets or alcoholic treats (which are rare for him anyway).” For me, it’s no simple sugars (ice cream, candy), bread or large portions when I am stressed. We are doing this fast so that, each time we crave one of those things, we look to God instead for nourishment. It’s a way of being more spiritually mindful in taking care of the lives God has given us.
- Comparison. I will be writing a lot about this in my book, but comparison isn’t just the thief of joy, it’s the thief of everything. When I compare other wedding magazines or blogs to ours, I get so far off track thinking about their numbers compared to ours and I completely forget the enormous fundamental difference that sets us apart – championing strong marriages above all else. You can read our whole mission statement here. I fall into comparison in so many areas, but I will work hard in 2014 to say NO to that and see what He sees.
- Email. I get too much of it. Not junk, but legitimate email. It’s hard because, every time I write a blog post or put something out into the world, I get emails. Really lovely wonderful emails that I am so grateful for from really lovely people. But, sometimes, they add up when I have a lot to reply to and that takes away from my time with my family. This is such a challenge for me because I want to reply to everything and I do. So, perhaps I can say NO to feeling compelled to always give long replies. But, friends…. just for the next month… I am kindly asking you to not email me. I cringe even typing that because I don’t like saying no, but I have to finish writing this book! : )
- STUFF. This is a huge one. I’m still going on the Contentment Challenge, but I have a long way to go. This quote from the book Margin that Nancy Ray posted sums it up perfectly:
- More: days that are filled with too many projects, getting angry instead of praying first, days where I don’t take time to study the Bible well, worrying about things I can’t control. I will keep adding to this list as I think of things and I encourage you to do the same with your lists.
Number one: knowing that I am made new in Him.
Finishing reading the Bible (I didn’t end up completing my goal to finish by today, but I am still pressing on!), working out hard so I can be a healthy mom for Grace, more music in our lives this year, intentionally teaching Grace good things, cooking more (more on that in a bit below), and opening my heart to the possibility of having another child. There is more, but I will keep adding to this as we go! Done is better than perfect right now. I want to spent time with my parents this afternoon and pick lemons from my mamas trees with Grace : )
My word for 2014 is CLEAR. I keep saying that to myself as I have gone through this process. Clear about my purpose, clearly using my gifts to serve others, clearly giving love to others… and free from distraction and the stuff that doesn’t align with His purpose for me.
Alright, welcome to Part 4! Cue the dance party — you’ve made it to the final steps of Goal Setting for 2014 before we actually set some solid goals!
STEP 10: Plant Seeds. Create Legacy.
My mom gave me the most special gift last night. She gave me decades of family memories, holidays and celebrations, her heart — her greatest passions and the unique gifts God gave her to share — in cook book form. My mom is a trained French chef and most of her happiest times have been in the kitchen and around the dinner table with us. She spent days and days putting together two giant binders of her recipes, kitchen tips and favorite family memories for me. Now, I can relive these memories with her in my own kitchen and pass them on to Grace. I’m crying typing this. That’s how big this gift is to my heart. This is her living legacy.
One of the greatest motivators I have is currently doing her farm puzzle at my feet : ) I told her I am writing things that I hope will help people. She smiled and went back to her puzzle, happy that I am writing to you. When Ari leaves for work in the morning, we tell her where he is going: to help people feel better. She loves knowing that is what he does. We know Grace understands. And telling her this makes us accountable. It makes both of us want to use all of our time wisely and to the full to genuinely help others. I know that she watches my every move and hears more than my words – she hears the heart behind them. She mirrors me all day long, showing me in human form how important it is for me to plant good seeds and LIVE the way we want her to live. Now, this is also the thing that can paralyze me and make me completely lose confidence the most. Creating a living legacy for Grace in all I do is a lot of pressure, but it’s a good pressure. Writing to you here on this blog, I am aware that she may read it some day, too. That makes me want to write boldly and clearly, with tenderness. It makes me want to leave a legacy that leads her to the heart of what matters. It makes me want to plant good seeds in really good soil. It’s what made me create this book…
A couple months ago, God put it firmly on my heart to leave Grace a legacy of love and wise guidance. So, I created A Handbook for Life for her and for all mamas and anyone who wants to leave your best advice, wisdom, family memories, reasons you love them and so much more. Ari and I can’t wait to fill this book out for Grace. This was one of my favorite things to create ever. Read all the details here and pre-order now for delivery before Valentine’s Day.
What little seeds can you plant in others? What legacy can you pass on to those you love now? What can you teach to others? What traditions can you pass to them? What gifts of love can you sow? Sometimes, the tiniest seeds produce the most amazing things. The mustard seed is one of the smallest of seeds, but grows into one of the largest of trees. For example, your seed might be starting a small savings account for a child or grandchild. It might be teaching someone something that will help them — like volunteering for the Boys and Girls Club or teaching at your church or just writing a blog post to share your knowledge about something. It might be writing a love letter to plant a seed of encouragement in someone else’s life. It might be creating something — using your art and creative talents — to multiply love in the heart of another or to inspire many. It might be starting an email account for your little one that you send love letters to daily and, when they are older, you will give them the password to let them read years of love. I have done that for the last two years and love sending Grace special emails! Make a list of “seeds” you can plant now — perhaps in the next few weeks — or the living legacy you want to pass to others. Leave your ideas here in the comments. I’ll share more of my list tomorrow.
STEP 11: Do something radical this year. For those of you in my generation, this doesn’t mean Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure kind of radical. I mean the kind of radical that changes everything for the better. That thing that has been set deep in your heart. That thing that scares you. That thing that feels impossible right now. That thing that you know would help you and everyone around you.
Radical literally means very new and different from what is traditional or ordinary. ‘If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten. ‘ – Tony Robbins Do something different this year, something that feels bigger than you. Imagine the possibilities if you do! You get to define what your radical means to you. Maybe it’s big like finally getting out of debt or starting a personal budget or getting healthy. Maybe it’s finally going on that mission trip or writing that email or starting that business. Maybe it’s saying “no” to something or simply and profoundly choosing to be more still this year. Before you get completely overwhelmed (I know I just dove into deep waters here with you!), here this: start small. The core principle behind what I’ve taught at the Making Things Happen workshop for the last 5+ years is this: begin anywhere. Little by little, make it happen. Your task here for Step 11 is to define your very first tiny small little itty bitty action step towards making that thing happen.
If your “radical” is getting out of debt, your very first step might be as small as going to the local library and checking out a copy of Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover. Yes, most libraries have new awesome books like that. Or get a copy from a friend. Or read Emily’s personal finance posts! Or sign up for a free Mint.com account to start an online budget.
If your “radical” is strengthening your marriage, maybe your first tiny action step might be leaving your husband a simple love note in his car tonight so he gets it tomorrow on the way to work. Just an “I love you. I appreciate you.” Maybe your first step is to give him or her a hug just because, even if he or she left the dirty dishes in the sink again or said that thing that made you upset. Maybe your first step is to simply listen and genuinely ask, “How are you?” even if they don’t ask the same in return. Maybe your first step is to pray for them. Prayer is an action step. Perhaps one of the very best ones.
If your “radical” is learning to be content, maybe your first tiny step is to read this post.
If your “radical” is getting healthy, your very first tiny action step might be to open a trash bag and step into your kitchen. If there is stuff in there that isn’t on your Making Things Happen Train with you (imagine all the good stuff cheering you on!), donate it to the food pantry, recycle its container and/or toss it. I’m giving you these steps as examples — debt and finances, marriage, health — because I once took these exact same steps myself. After college, in the thick of depression, I gained 50lbs in 6 months. It was a long road to learn to fill my soul and body with what it really needed. And it didn’t happen overnight or without struggle or failure or buckets of tears. But, little by little by little, it did happen. I eventually became a personal trainer to try to help others learn to do the same. I trained hundreds of men and women and learned more about fear and self-doubt than I ever anticipated. I am so grateful for my journey and how it has translated into the work I do now.
So, what is your “radical”? Define it. Write it in black and white and let it marinate in your big beautiful heart. And then DO something about it. Something very small. Sometimes — most of the time — the hardest part is starting. The rest of the pieces can come later. Define your radical now. Share it here and let’s support and pray for each other. I will share mine tomorrow, too.
Step 12: OK, 10 and 11 were admittedly challenging, though likely the most fruitful. So, here’s an easy one. Choose a song for this year! A song that lights your heart on fire and makes you feel alive and connected to what you want most. Music has the ability to connect us to what matters most in an instant. Music can lift us out of a slump fast. Music can fill our should with goodness on days that nothing else seems to get to our hearts. This is most definitely my song for this year. Share your song for 2014 here in the comments, too!
Remember, if you need an extra kick in the pants to make this happen, I’m going to be giving away a $20 gift code to my shop (there are some crazy amazing new Making Things Happen and inspiring goodies coming to the shop soon!) and goodies from other shops I love on EVERY POST in this series to one lucky commenter per post.
PRIZES FOR THIS POST: Read Part 1 for all the ways you can win! Randomly chosen commenters on this post will get either a $20 gift card to my shop or one of these new Life Handbooks. YAY!
Yeah!!! Happy NEW Year!!!