Hi, friends! Welcome back to Part 2 of 2015 Goal Setting. If you are new, be sure to read Part 1 here to get started. And friends, remember this truth: there is nothing magical about January 1. The best day to begin is TODAY.

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In Part 1, we talked about what went well and what we were grateful for in 2014. I am so encouraged by the thoughts you shared on the last post and by the dozens of blog posts that have been written with such passion, honesty, and intentionality about the coming year. Y’all are in this with your whole hearts and that gets me fired up even more! Let’s keep going, shall we?

What didn’t work in 2014? Honesty time! And before you do this step, remember not to beat yourself up here. I know you want to make this your best year yet. The past is behind you. The old has gone, the new has come! Just list some facts here. In business and life, what didn’t work well to help you live your best life this year and what needs improvement?

For me, a lot didn’t work. I am human and I fail all the time. But! All of the challenges this year eventually pointed me back to what matters. They strengthened me. They refined me in big ways and made me more confident in my faith and purpose. The challenges showed me time and time again that I need God and that is a very good thing. Often, the challenges redirected me to a better path and a deeper trust in the only thing that never fails.

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– Going through a miscarriage and trying to have a baby was challenging, but like I shared on Monday, it was completely for my good. Read the story here.
– Many people think writing a book is glamorous. Maybe if you are writing about flowers or something light-hearted. Writing about your own failures for all to read is a different story. Writing the book was the hardest thing I did this year because it made me face myself and question where I was seeking my worth. I feared what others would think of my path. I feared never finishing my manuscript. I feared so very much. I faced my life’s mistakes as I wrote about them. I cried oceans of tears and mourned what felt like lost days chasing after the world’s idea of success instead of God’s. There was so much shame I didn’t realize I was still carrying. I felt totally inadequate as a writer. (I could write that last sentence about thirty times I felt it so much.) And you know what? It was for all my good. I felt about as tall as a grain of sand and it made me throw my whole reliance on the Lord for my strength and identity. I’m still on this journey, but in writing the book I felt like I exhaled bricks. It was like going through ten therapy sessions a day — speed therapy, if you will. I laid down the shame and baggage at His feet and found myself saying, Wherever you want me to go, Lord, I’ll go. Whatever you want me to write, help me put the pen to the paper. Less of me, all of You. I still feel a bit overwhelmed by the book being out in people’s hands. Most of me wants to close my eyes and slip away from the internet for a few weeks to let the book rush pass, but that is selfish and sheepish. Although, I like sheep : ) I told you I was going to write out my mess, and I hope it helps some of you not feel alone. I don’t write about fear because I have none. I write about it because I know it well and, by the grace of God, I am learning to understand it more so it doesn’t speak louder than my faith. Fears and all, I know for sure this book what God gave me to write, imperfect as it may be. Writing those pages was like going through the pains of labor and then feeling the joy of knowing you gave it your all and your whole heart is in it, but ultimately God is the creator of life and made it happen. He is so good.
– I had a wake-up call a few months ago when I was introduced to what is now one of my favorite marriage resources, Unveiled Wife. Jennifer is now a friend and writes about the challenges of marriage and she also has been an advocate of paraben-free products because of the harmful effects they have on the female body. Search her site for “parabens” or google it and you may have the same wake-up call I did. Quite honestly, I freaked out. Every single product I had used my entire life — face lotion, bath soap, make-up, lip gloss, hand soap, cleaning products, and even some over-the-counter medicines — was full of harmful toxins. So, we got rid of everything and started over completely. It took me six months to finally find skincare products that didn’t make my face breakout, but I think it might have been more that my hormones were adjusting to paraben-free living. I am so grateful for this wake-up call and, even though it was costly to get all new products, it is worth it for the long-term health of our family. Here are some of the products I use now:

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Clockwise from top left: Tarte concealer, Organic Bath Co. Stress Less Oil (more on this in a mount), One Love Organics Easy Does It Cleanser, Tarte Amazonian Clay blush, and Acure Sensitive Skin moisturizer. One of my favorites is this Stress Less oil from Organic Bath Co. The owner, Gianne, has become a friend and told me that she used the PowerSheets to help start her business — so encouraging! She’s generously offered a 20% discount to anyone who reads this post. Enter the code HOORAY at checkout. Enjoy!
– Parenting. Parenting. Parenting! Grace is a blessing and she is, like many three-year-old’s, strong-willed. Parenting in 2014 was hard. There were days I felt totally defeated and had to throw up the white flag. But, like all I’ve written about thus far, it has so been for my good and it made Ari and I seek advice from older parents in our church, which was so helpful. The challenging days of parenthood ultimately made me more patient and a better listener. The trials of parenting have made me slow down more so I can help Grace understand her feelings and emotions as they come. Being a parent humbles you as you realize you have zero control sometimes. God is in control and my job is to be a living example of the new testament to Grace, showing her heaps of grace, consistency, honesty, humility, and prayerful trust in action. Being a parent has grown my faith. It has brought me to my knees and made me pray, because sometimes that’s all I can do! : )
– I am very grateful for Will Ray and the sound financial guidance he has given me the last couple years. I highly recommend working with him for either your personal finances, business finances, or both. Will helped us become debt-free (besides our mortgage) last year, which was something I didn’t think would happen with Ari’s enormous student loans. But, Will helped us see that it was possible if we were willing to, as Dave Ramsey says, live like no one else so we can live like no one else. But, as much as I felt financially prepared this year, things happened. Unexpected business costs threw me for a loop, further solidifying the importance of the business Emergency Fund. From the tax mess I mentioned in this post to thousands of dollars lost on a website design that never came to fruition to unexpected product shipping costs, it was a big year for unexpected loss. There is nothing I could have done to change these things, so each situation brought me to my knees. My business is very important to me because of WHY we do what we do, so I am extra passionate about making sure we are financially sound to carry out the mission we have. But, the ultimately Lord is in control of that too and this year was a reminder that I have to trust Him with all of it.

– I struggled with ugly feelings of comparison and worrying about competition, which has rarely every been a thing for me. But, it happened and it was not fun. And once again, this was so for my good. The Lord helped me turn comparison into true compassion and cheering on!

– In general, what didn’t work was worry, stress, or anything less than the joy that I know I have no matter my circumstances. I worried too much and God always always always had a plan that was bigger than mine. I often think of Paul in prison writing these words:

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Phil 4:11-13 NIV)

There were many more challenges, but this are the ones that stand out today. Can you sense a theme in all of my challenges this year? What I learned from all of this:

I have no control.

God does.

Trust God.

: )

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What about you? What challenges did you face this year and what did you learn from them? Perhaps you are still in the thick of some challenges and have no idea yet what they are supposed to teach you. That’s okay! Wherever you are, let’s share the hard things and encourage each other in them. Leave your thoughts in the comments and help encourage others as well.

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Next step! As a creative, visual person, imagery really lights my heart on fire more than anything. Great photographs and colors can make my heart sing and help me clarify my vision. If you are like me, you will really love this step. Make a Pinterest board of images that will inspire a purposeful year. Title your board “Making Things Happen in 2015″ so we can search for each other’s boards! Now, one word of caution. I rarely use Pinterest (like, twice a year) because it can be the black hole of distraction and discontentment. Pin wisely, friends. Pick images that light your heart on fire and move on! The goal isn’t to have  Pinterest-worthy year, so pick images that have deep heart, not just pretty things. Here’s my board from last 2013 and from 2014 and here is where I’ll be pinning images for 2015 over the next weeks as I let my goals marinate.

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What fires you up? What are the things that light your soul on fire? Pretty simple, yet very profound: name them and then DO them. Do more of what fires you up. If dance parties, hugging your kids, laughing with your husband, and doing good things for others fires you up, DO those things today (and always, but start with just today).

Download a free printable of the list above here.

Physically do some of the things you want to see more of in your life and take action on them. Not all of them, just some of them. Do what you can. We all have at least five minutes every day, even if we don’t think we do, to make what matters happen. How much time have you already spent on social media today? How much time will you spend on it the rest of the day? Trade that time for doing something that fires you up, not for self-indugence, but to live on purpose and love well. I don’t think many of us can say that lurking on Facebook fires us up, can we?

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See what happens when you physically start living on purpose, instead of by accident. Little by little, get connected to what matters most to you. Love on people. Write out your list and then DO something on that list. If you love the ocean, but don’t live near it, click here. Does the sound of rain make you feel alive? Here you go! If you love dance parties, pump up the jam! If you love hugs, give one. If you are fired up by creating, make something, even if it’s small, like a card for a friend. Take photographs just for the love of taking them. If you are fired up by the outdoors, close your computer or put down this iPhone and step outside. Just do it. Don’t wait to live.

See how making the things on your list happen starts to shape your life — and most importantly — the lives of everyone around you. God gave us talents and gifts that are meant to be used to shine His glory brightly to the world — and He gave us sunsets and the roaring ocean likely to leave us in awe of His goodness. Note to self and everyone: It’s hard to do and see those things hiding behind a computer screen : )

The Bible doesn’t tell us to “follow our passions” so we can be happy, but it definitely tells us to use our unique gifts to serve others. And there is a deeper joy found in that. A peace that passes all understanding. You were created for great things, my friend. You were created to shine brightly for Him. That is definitely something to have a dance party for! Share your list here. I will share mine soon too. Making life happen in 2015, here we come!

More Monday. Get to writing and DOing, friends!

PRIZES FOR THIS POST: Read Part 1 for all the ways you can win! Winners will get either a $50 gift card to my shop or an Emily Ley Homebase Binder set! I love the Homebase Binder to keep our household things organized and I keep my PowerSheets in it too. Thanks to Emily for this great giveaway!

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Winners will ba announced January 31 so you have lots of time to spread the word about this series and make these posts happen. I’ll be back next week with more 2015 Goal Setting goodness. Happy meaningful, intentional, purpose-filled, fired-up weekend, friends!

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Leave a comment with your thoughts: What were some of the challenges from 2014 and what did you learn from them? What fires you up? And leave a link to your Pinterest board so we can follow each other : )

P.S. Need a new iPhone or desktop wallpaper, like the one above, for the new year? Check out my free downloads gallery here.

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  • Hello, friends! It’s been quite a week announcing our growing family, shipping a crazy amount of orders out of my garage (I have the most tolerant neighbors!), and releasing my book. All great things that have brought an exploding phone and inbox, and a grateful heart for all God has done.

    Last night we completed our home walk-through for our adoption home study, handed over the final paperwork, and now we are home study ready! Typing that is surreal. I sat in the kitchen after the social worker left and felt very still. I couldn’t get any words out. I felt like I needed to cry, but the tears wouldn’t come. This avalanche of all the things in the last couple days left me emotionally overwhelmed. With our growing family comes fear of the unknown: will God take this baby home to be with Him too?  How will we raise two infants at once with a busy three-year old? How will this affect our business that means a great deal to me because of our mission? With the book release comes fear of those 240 pages not affecting anyone and fear of judgement from others for my imperfect path. A lot of fear and opportunity to draw closer to God in trusting Him more fully with all the things. I think of the father in Mark who says, “I believe; help my unbelief!

    As I sat in these feelings in the kitchen, a friend called. I screened her call, feeling hesitant and selfish. She left a message saying she really needed someone to pray with. Despite my own overwhelm, God kept urging me to call her back.

    It’s the times I step outside of my comfort zone and say YES to Him that life changes.

    I listened to her heart. I was reminded of God’s power to transform anyone and anything as I related parts of my own story to her. I prayed for her. She listened to my heart and prayed for me. Our exchange of time and prayer was the very best gift that I didn’t realize I needed. So often I try to control instead of trust God. I felt God saying: Be still, Lara. Be still and know that I am God and I am all that matters. I am all the things. I have all of this. Just keep saying YES to me. The best is yet to come.

    Jesus was often still and withdrew to pray before He made some of the most monumental decisions. In fact, He prayed all night: ‘One day soon afterward Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night. At daybreak he called together all of his disciples and chose twelve of them to be apostles’ (Luke 6:12-13 NIV).

    So, that’s where I’m starting today with 2015 Goal Setting. With stillness. With prayer. While the rest of the world rushes to set goals by the stroke of midnight tonight, I offer you an alternative: be still. Let’s do this well, with intention.

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    We’re going to take this day by day, in small powerful chunks, because there are no shortcuts to any place worth going. – Beverly Sills   For the entire series, I’ll be sharing my personal progress and goals as well.  And I have no idea what those goals will be yet.  No idea!  I know the heart of what they will be, but this is a series — a process — for a reason.  You can microwave some goals and have a pretty list by January 1, or you can dig deeper and set goals that matter to you over the next week or so with me.  You can pray hard about them and really weigh whether or not they are the best use of your time.  You can set goals that are twenty levels below the surface, where the fiery good stuff lives, or you can just make resolutions that get forgotten and tossed aside come February 1. If you need an extra kick in the pants to make this happen, keep reading.  I have a little something for you at the end.

    I told you I was going to be open and walk through my mess with you and that this was going to be different than the last four years. Here goes!

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    A few things before we get started!

    Here’s what you can expect in this series: I’m going to walk through the steps in my book and the PowerSheets together, as they were designed to be used together. I’m going to blog pieces of my journey using both. I won’t be blogging every step as many of them are exclusive to the book and PowerSheets. So, if you are using either of these tools, or both, take your time coming back to these posts as you get to each step in the book or PowerSheets. These posts aren’t going anywhere, so take your time and come back when you’re ready. More notes below for book + PowerSheets friends!

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    If you are reading my book: it was written for this season of goal setting and taking big leaps of faith. There are lots of steps throughout the first three sections and exclusive book downloads. Do them. Use them. Write all over your paperback copy. This book was designed to be an action book, not just a reading book. Section Four of the book is the Make It Happen Action Guide that walks through faith-based goal setting steps. If you haven’t gotten a copy of the book, it’s not too late. Get yours here. Also, if you are blogging your Make it Happen journey, you can get lots of free downloadable graphics to use here. This is me below, working through the book steps myself!

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    If you are using the PowerSheets: Everything you need is in there! PowerSheets can be used by anyone in any life stage — mama, business owner, student, anyone. While you’ll see faith mentioned in my own PowerSheets examples, they can be used by anyone, any faith. And they will make you work, friends! Expect to dig deep. More info on the PowerSheets can be found here and you can check out the #PowerSheets hashtag on Instagram to follow others’ progress too : )

    If you are using both the Make It Happen book + PowerSheets together: I designed them to work together. This is the best combo. Important: start the book first and when you get to Section Four, work through the PowerSheets along with that section. I am pumped for many of you who are doing this now!

    Do you need either of these to have an intentional year? No, but my prayer is that these tools help you greatly if you do use them. If you just have a notebook to do these few steps I’ll be sharing, use that! If you have scrap paper, that’s great too : ) It’s not about the perfect stuff, it’s about how you USE what you have.

    Let’s do this!

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    First! Here’s the deal. Making things happen requires action. (Prayer is an action step, by the way. One of the very best ones.) As we go through this series, either use the comment area here to leave your answers or write them in your PowerSheets or a journal. But, don’t just think them. Thinking them doesn’t count. Write them out and, if you want accountability, leave them boldly here in the comments. I want to cheer you on! Friends, help me out here and cheer each other on, too. You never know who you might inspire or whose life you might completely change with your words.

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    An easy place to start in preparing for an intentional new year is to reflect on the good things in the last 12 months. Here were my 2014 goals:

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    God made so much more good happen than I expected. I am praising Him as I type this. He guided me on each one of these goals. I didn’t write both books I’m contracted for, but I did write one and that was plenty : )

    Writing this list below of the Good Things from 2014 was hard at first and then, as I went through these goals from January, my calendar, blog posts, Instagrams, and 2014 PowerSheets, I saw so much good that God did that I forgot about! It’s so easy to forget the good and only focus on the challenges, isn’t it? So, here is a little bit of the goodness this year brought. I am so grateful to have made this list — so much to celebrate that I didn’t remember till I sat down to be still and write.

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    The things that stand out to me most from 2014 are all about relationships. Closer sisterhood with the women from my church family group has been so sweet. We had a lot of fun together this year, welcomed new babies, had a women’s book club, enjoyed lots of meals and prayer time, and we even hosted Sunday service at our house in July when our church decided to help us understand what the closeness of the Acts church was like. It was awesome. I am so grateful for the brothers and sisters we get to do life with.

    One of those sisters, Tijuana, made a big impact on my life this year. In January, I was overwhelmed with my book writing and work. I was struggling with my packed schedule and feeling like I didn’t have time for friends or fellowship. Tijuana pursued my heart and didn’t give up. I remember so clearly one night when she said, “I know your schedule is packed, but we should pray together — even if it’s over the phone once a week.” I resisted. I got mad at God because I wanted to pray with her but couldn’t seem to find time between motherhood and work. God made me find time. I finally gave in and it changed my life. Every Monday night at 8pm for six months we prayed. I’m crying typing this. Tijuana showed me what faithful friendship is. No matter what was going on in her life, she dropped everything to get on the phone and talk to God with me.

    I am grateful for closer friendships and new friendships. I could write a whole post just about this and my heart is already pouring out in thanks to God. Good friends became great friends. People I didn’t know at the start of the year have now sat on my couch with me countless times to share life. Meals have been shared, tears, fears. God blew me away with friendships after years of prayer and feeling like I didn’t have a local community that “got me.” I don’t deserve the friends I have, but that is a picture of God’s grace and goodness — He loves us that much.

    If there is one word that captures 2014 for me it’s community. We felt God calling us to open our home and we hosted dozens of dinners, sometimes three or four times a week. Many of the friends who joined us at the table ended up in Instax pics on our fridge too : )

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    We had the joy of teaching Bible class for the 2-year-old’s for several months this year, took a very helpful marriage and parenting class at church, and were so grateful to be asked to lead our Family Group, which we also host in our home. When things got crazy in Bible Class, Ari broke out the bubbles!

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    I spoke at the Thomas Nelson Spring Sales Conference to present my book to retailers. It was an awesome experience to see a giant room full of retailers from Barnes and Noble, ChristianBook.com, Faith Gateway, and more, pray together about the books and stories they were being presented. Seeing so many honor God in prayer at a business event left me in awe.

    Ari and I celebrated seven years of marriage. If you know my story, that is all God! He is so good. I haven’t spoken about this much online because it has felt so sweet and personal to me, but this year I changed my name : ) Lara Casey Isaacson. I’m not changing it for business, but in my house, I am Mrs. Isaacson and that makes me so grateful. Nancy and Will Ray have been two of the most encouraging friends in our lives and sent me this beautiful gift. They had Ari hand-write my new name and had it made into a necklace. I love it!

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    I did a lot of consulting with small business owners this year. I’ve been doing consulting since 2009, but this year in particular I felt very clear about how God wanted me to lead others. Writing my book helped me to put words to many things I hadn’t been able to express in the past and this, in turn, helped others too.

    The garden. If you read my last post, you know this was my joy. The garden was a daily gift! I gave plants and crops away and met many through gardening. I started the Southern Garden Club and enjoyed garden tastings and talk with local friends. It was a joy!

    As of today, I’m still going on the Contentment Challenge, specifically with not shopping for clothes. I thought I would do this for three months, beginning in September 2013, but God has kept me going. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been revealing and good.

    I work with some remarkable women. That is a good thing itself. I am grateful to work alongside women who share the same passion for our mission as I do, sometimes more. This year, our business got smaller and bigger — smaller in the scope of what we do (I stopped doing Making Brands Happen in January) and as a result, bigger in our mission reach. In all of this, our team created beautiful and meaningful imagery and words for our seventh annual issue, V7, that highlighted meaningful beginnings to married life.

    Small is the new big. We considered and said no to office space for many reasons. The prescribed path for a growing business tends to be: start small, grow grow grow, get office space, grow more and get busier. After my miscarriage, I realized I didn’t want any part of that plan. I wanted to stay at home where I can bake biscuits for my team and go right downstairs to comfort Grace when she needs me. So, even though we are bursting at the seams in our small space, we decided to do more with less this year and it has been a blessing.

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    2014 brought many changes in our office culture as we began celebrating working anniversaries, enjoyed our first annual team retreat, and decided to make this a year of relationships, hosting many in-person reader and community events. Our whole team travelled a lot too (more than me): NSS, Bridal Market, Engage, workshops, education, shoots all over the South, oh my!

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    It was a big year for product design. Nicole and I spent many hours in front of the big iMac. Nicole is pretty awesome. Some of the many things she took from concept to reality this year in our office: all new 2015 PowerSheets, the new Southern Weddings Planner, new prints, new desk card sets, scripture cards, and many more products that we have yet to produce. They are meaningful and I can’t wait to use them myself. Details to come.

    Our former nanny, Meredith, got married and Rhiannon joined our family. These women mean so much to me! They will always be family.

    The Influence Conference with Ari was awesome. I love the Influence Network and the women who created it!

    The Making Things Happen Conference this fall was just so good and life-changing — my favorite yet. We made many additions to the format and it was a joy! By the way, today is the last day to register at the early-bird rate!

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    Grace turned 3 and started preschool, got her own bed, was so brave at swim lessons in the summer, and is just a fun kid. I love her : )

    A huge new thing this year was something unexpected and will likely be the subject of my second book. I started talking to a lot of women about marriage. I’ve had dozens of phone calls with women I’ve never met, sharing my story and praying with them. I’ve made dear friends that have encouraged me greatly as well. God is good. I never expected to be used in this way through my own imperfect path and brokenness, but God does remarkable things with our broken pieces when we give them to Him. If you are struggling in marriage, know that the impossible is possible with God. I wrote my book for this very reason, in hopes it will encourage many to believe in what seems impossible.

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    Bible Bunch (above). Oh, Bible Bunch! For years I have wanted to start a local Bible study for women to dig into Bible basics and to build community. I had no idea it would happen this year and in the way it did! My friends Carrie, Randi, and I decided to take a leap of faith and ask on Instagram if any local women would like to join us for a Bible study at my house. We had space for 15 people and over 50 replied. We now have almost 100 women in Bible Bunch! God is awesome. We meet once a month here in Chapel Hill. Leave a comment here if you’d like to join us and I’ll email you info! Our next meeting is Monday, January 5. Bible Bunch has brought more than just new friends, it has brought life-long soul friends. I am blown away by what God has and continues to do with Bible Bunch!

    Writing and releasing a book goes on both the Good Things list and my Challenges list. More to come on this in the next post, but I am so grateful for God faithfully making this happen. Here is the book trailer below and you can find more info on how to purchase here.

    I was also grateful to get to record my own audio book. It was two long days of hard work and so worth it. You can download it on Audible, iTunes, Amazon, and get the DVD’s at major retailers.

    The first-ever Faith Retreat was a beautiful end to 2014. I love these friends (below). We decided to stop and be still in a hurried season to get back to what’s most important: Him. We prayed, shared what God has taught us this year, laughed, and celebrated His goodness together. It was so sweet!

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    Up next, I’ll be sharing some of the many challenges that God used for my good and what I learned from both the good and the hard. For now though…

    Your turn! Write your own list of good things. What are you most grateful for from 2014? You can write it in your PowerSheets if you have reached that section or write it in a journal. Either way, I also encourage you to share some of your 2014 gratitude in the comments to encourage others too!

    And remember this: There is no room for comparison in making what matters happen. Whether you had one good thing happen or twenty, celebrate the good stuff and let’s help each other do the same. Let’s turn comparison into compassion and cheering on : )

    OK, that’s it for today and that’s plenty to work on. Be still, be prayerful, and celebrate the good stuff today! I’m going to take tomorrow away from the computer and soak myself in the Word before I do anything else, withdrawing to pray and listen before I act. I’ll be back Friday with more!

    Take your time with this and remember with your PowerSheets — or however you set and take action on goals this year: PROGRESS NOT PERFECTION.  This is not about writing the perfect list with a perfect pen… it’s just about honesty. To make things happen, you have to start with where you are. This is a process that will have a big payoff, but you have to commit to working through it. Be still and let your year’s vision slowly cook, like a pan of homemade hot baked cinnamon rolls fresh out of the oven. They wouldn’t be so flaky and yummy cooked in the microwave, would they? Just a big pile of mushy dough. I’m not going to hand you your 2015 goals. We’re going to do this right and get there together. Sound good? Awesome! Get to it!

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    If you need an extra kick in the pants to make this happen, on every post there will be a big giveaway. Today’s is the new Make It Happen Collection Box: a Make it Happen T, gold foil notepad, calligraphy print, a set of PowerSheets for you or a friend, and our new signature sunrise stripe box with gold foil “Make it Happen” on the top. You can win multiple times and you can increase your chances of winning by:

    – Commenting on this post to share your thoughts
    — Pinning this post or any in the series
    – Instagramming any graphic with a link back here to this post or future posts
    – Sharing this series on Facebook or Twitter
    – Blogging or in any way sharing this post/series
    – For all entires, link back here to www.LaraCasey.com/blog and use the #2015GoalSetting hashtag. You are welcome to use graphics from my posts!
    – Lastly, leave a comment saying you did any of the above. You can enter as many times as you like on all posts! I’m going to choose some extra winners along the way, too, for some special surprises : )

    Why am I doing this? I know God put me here on this earth for many reasons, and He has made it clear that one of those reasons it to motivate people to take action on what matters most. I want you — yes YOU — to make what matters happen in your life. So, help me spread the word and let’s get all our friends in on this for accountability! Making things happen is always better when shared.

    Here’s to a meaningful, purpose-filled 2015 — I am cheering you on friends!

    P.S. I didn’t proofread this post because I have to get Gracie down for a nap, so forgive typos! My life motto still holds strong: done is better than perfect : )

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    I began 2014 overwhelmed about writing my book (which launches tomorrow — ah!!!). I struggled with oceans of self-doubt and often considered throwing in the towel. In January, I found out I was pregnant. I was excited but locked in my office writing, worrying about my manuscript deadline that had passed (and graciously been extended about four times by that point). In February, God took that baby home to be with Him. It was one of the hardest seasons. At the time of my miscarriage, I was in the middle of writing through some of the hardest parts of my life. That same week, I received a letter from the IRS stating I had been filing as the wrong entity type since 2010 and I had to re-do four years of business and personal tax returns thanks to an accountant’s major error years before. (Long story. God is good and praise Him it’s all over now.) Needless to say, that was a rough week. I didn’t understand why all of this was happening at once. Ari kept telling me to trust. This, like all the mess I was writing about, would be for my good. It’s hard to see when you’re in it. The winter seemed to last forever. But, ‘to everything there is a season, a time and purpose under heaven.’ I wrote in my book about how God did use that season for my good. He is faithful. I now look back and praise Him for the winter. After winter, always comes spring.

    Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 2.37.38 PMAbove: Writing. Writing. More writing. 

    Hundreds of bulbs I had planted in the fall broke through the seemingly-dead frozen ground, giving me hope for the seasons ahead. I felt God encouraging me to plant new seeds in my life and in this soil that seemed lifeless.

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    I grieved and healed through gardening. I planted hundreds of flowers and crops: twelve types of tomatoes, six varieties of peppers, 200 onions, zucchini, sweet corn, eggplant, carrots, radishes, basil, pineapple sage, stevia, okra, beans, peas, cucumbers, cabbage, kale, sweet potatoes, lots of bee attractors, wildflowers, sunflowers, dwarf zinnias (one of my garden favorites), and more.

    IMG_4748My handsome garden helper above, who built and filled my new veggie beds with rich soil.

    IMG_4734My littlest garden helper who filled us with laughs : )

    IMG_8329Harvesting above with Ari’s mom on one of her visits from California. Don’t mind Hootie the owl : ) He was there to keep the bunnies away from the soybeans, although he ended up coming inside to live with us because Gracie loves him so much.

    The year before, I had planted an Elberta peach and a fig tree. Both yielded ultra sweet harvests in the summer — best peaches I’ve ever had. To our tiny orchard we added some wildcards for fun: a grafted apple tree that produces four varieties in one tree, a “fruit cocktail” tree that has grafted branches of apricot, nectarine, and peach, and we added a potted navel orange, kumquat, and another Meyer lemon.

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    I went a little over-board. Watering and tending and pruning this tiny farm was a thing, but it was awesome. Each day was an adventure in the garden. New life all around me. I started this new Instagram account to capture the growth. Every day brought new surprises.

    During this season, God allowed me to connect with those who had weathered loss. I spoke with many women who had miscarried and I felt compelled to reach out and be a listening ear when a friend experienced loss. I felt that, in a tiny way, I could understand. If anything, I knew I could pray.

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    During this season, God also taught me that He is in control and that is a very good thing.

    So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow‘ (1 Corinthians 3:7 NIV).

    I can’t grow anything good without Him. Period. He wants me to plant good seeds in good soil, tend to them, prune, and generously share the harvest. But, I need His gifts of sun and water — I need His Son and the living water of His word — to make anything good happen. That is just plain truth in my life.

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    Ari and I prayerfully started trying to have a baby again. The months passed. I began to understand, in a very small way, some of what my two best friends, Emily and Gina, had gone through. And let me emphasize again in a small way. In the last couple years, I’ve become close with many girlfriends who are going through infertility or loss. Some journeys have been decades and some shorter, but all have carried with them tremendous heartache. If you are there right now, my prayers are with you as I type this. I don’t have the perfect words to offer, but I can offer prayer.

    After a year and a half of trying, Ari and I felt that maybe God did have a plan and having another biological child wasn’t it.

    Adoption has been a topic of conversation for several years. Last September (2013), I remember talking with Ari about it and him sharing his fears. “But,” He added, “if this is what God has for us I trust He will bring me peace.”

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    In the summer, we romped through the garden beds with Casey Chappell and her crew of 5 adopted littles. We pulled up radishes and plucked tomatoes right off the vine. Jack and Ezra loved the garden, and I loved picking figs, beans, herbs, and mint for them to sample.

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    I first became friends with Casey through Instagram. Nancy had posted about the Chappell’s visiting her in Raleigh, I clicked over to Casey’s account, and bam. My heart leapt out of my chest. Seeing her little loves and her passion for adoption, I knew I had to get to know this amazing woman. We became instant real-life friends. We sat on my back porch, ate hot dogs and sweet potato fries with the kids scurrying all around us, and we talked adoption. Ari’s heart started to crack open too.

    It all still felt so scary though. Like why are we always talking about adoption we are not cut out for this scary. And yet we kept reading this verse in James and many others and God kept putting families in our path who had adopted. God wasn’t subtle.

    We started the international adoption process, filling out a mountain of paperwork, gathering documents, and praying a lot. Our one step left was to get a letter of guardianship from another couple, stating that they would take care of our children if we were to pass away. No question, we were going to ask our friends Thom and Bek. Thom and Bek were our church family group leaders for a long while before they moved to Birmingham. They became two of our very best friends and faith mentors to us. Right before were were going to ask them, their daughter, Elizabeth Glory, went to be with the Lord shortly after she was born. It was heartbreaking. We couldn’t think of adding to our family while our dear friends were wading through such grief. Our whole hearts were with them.

    One of the many things I love about God is how He uses sorrow to change our hearts for His good purposes. In that time, our hearts did change. A friend sent me this video and a million little pieces started to point us to a new path. We saw the great need right in front of us and felt God pulling us to adopt domestically. So, we started over completely.

    We began to feel more urgency. There were so many children out there waiting to be loved and we felt that, with God’s help and grace, we could do that.

    Ari and I ran into Courtney at the Influence Conference and both felt God saying okay, this is it. Let’s do this. Ari and I continued to pray and, after a long phone call with Casey and Courtney, we said yes.

    I finished our new adoption paperwork on the eve of Thanksgiving. I thought about the cycle of life. My grandma Bunny was breathing her last breaths in the hospital with my mom, dad, brother and uncle by her side. I knew that night would likely be her last here on the earth. I don’t know if anyone else had ever felt this, but it’s in moments like that when I deeply feel God’s presence. I felt an all-consuming peace.

    I felt peace about Grandma’s 97 sweet years on this earth. What courage and zest for life she had. She lived and loved well. I felt peace about our little family and totally surrender. I felt grateful for the gift of adoption and totally at peace about not having more biological children. It was the peace that transcends all understanding. I felt grateful. In awe of Him.

    And then… I felt a little off.

    I looked at the calendar, looked at Grace, and I nervously loaded her in the car to go to the grocery store while we waited on Ari to come home from work.

    I thought for sure there was no way.

    And then there were two pink lines.

    I cried in disbelief on the bathroom rug with Grace and said, Gracie! There is a baby in there! God is crazy! She leaned over, pulled up my shirt, and looked as if she was going to blow a big raspberry on my belly. Her little lips got close to by belly button and with the biggest joy she squealed, “Hiiiii baby!”

    Ari arrived home moments later.
    Me: So I finished our adoption paperwork.
    Ari: Great.
    Me: And then this happened. I showed him the two pink lines.
    Ari: Oh. Okay.

    We were both in shock. We were in shock because this didn’t change our conviction about adopting in the least. We are still all in. And that’s all God. The peace that transcends all understanding. In our human hearts, there were (and still are) moments of complete panic and disbelief, but God…

    But, God…

    Those two words are true, not just in my life, but in yours too.

    But, God isn’t a God of logic, He is God. He can make the impossible possible.

    But, God didn’t want our marriage to fail years ago. He wanted our wholehearts. And He got them.

    But, God didn’t want my business to be used just for making a living. He wanted it to be used to hopefully help many to live on purpose.

    But, God had a different plan to grow our family than we expected. His plans are always far better than ours.

    But, God doesn’t need us or you to be perfect, He just needs your surrendered heart and hands.

    We know for sure that God is real. We also know for sure that we need Him. The year ahead will likely be crazy. We are, no doubt, going to fail a lot. But, God… can and has done greater things than help us raise three children — two infants in one year. If He brings you to it, He will see you through it. We trust Him.

    We are grateful and nervous and listening and also cautious with all of this. While this is where He has us right now, He has been known to throw us some curveballs. We don’t know what God has planned for this life in my belly or for for us with adoption. We know that He could take this baby home to be with Him too, if that’s His will. All we can do is pray and trust and do what He says as each day comes.

    Some things:

    I’m due next summer, around August 1st.

    God is so good and sweet in His timing. Grandma passed on Thanksgiving morning. After my mom told me she had gone to be with the Lord, I shared with her that there was a new life inside of me. Her tears of sorrow turned to joy.

    “Morning” sickness is all day every day for me, so if you have seen me in person in the last weeks and I’ve been a little off, this is why : )

    When I went in for my first ultrasound, the doc was very nice and excited for us. And then I handed her the medical clearance form that I needed for our home study. She looked at me like I was nuts for a second. Then, she expressed her excitement and told me about her sister adopting. She was awesome and is pumped for us.

    I ate a turkey sandwich for breakfast. If you know me, you know that means something is up.

    Grace is excited to be a big sister and we pray for the babies every day.

    Between a growing business, five literal-in-house employees, and a busy three year old, we are plum out of space. With adoption costs, moving is not in the cards, though. So, we are getting creative and may be finishing part of our attic to stretch our space a little.

    Needless to say, 2015 Goal Setting has been flipped on it’s head for me. I’m excited to dive in with you tomorrow with the first steps as I launch my book and walk with you in preparing for a crazy and purposeful new year. 2015 is going to be an adventure and I’m grateful to have you here to learn from your journey too! Goal Setting Part 1 is up tomorrow…

    For now, thank you. Many of you have prayed for our family and I can’t thank you enough. We are so grateful. His plans are always better than ours, no matter what they may be.

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    P.S. I don’t have all the answers about adoption. Far from it. I still have more questions than answers at this point. We are still so new to adoption and just trusting God with each step. So, if you are looking for a resource, I recommend reading Casey’s blog as a start. There are so many great resources out there. I am still learning and listening.

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    If you could envision your most purposeful year yet, what would it look like? Where do you want to be when you’re eighty — or even one year from now?

    I’ve asked these questions of thousands. The answers I’ve been given typically center on relationships. When we envision ourselves at eighty years old, having lived on purpose, we typically don’t envision social media, comparison, or our stuff in the picture; we see people. We see hearts—hearts we hope to have affected in a purposeful way. We see those we have spent quality time with. We see contentment. So the big question, then, is: If that’s where we want to be, what should we be doing today?

    Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 11.25.18 AMPhoto by Katie McGihon from our recent family trip to California.

    Where do we start in the middle of what can be a hurried season, when it feels impossible to put the train brakes on? We start where all life begins—with tiny seeds.

    There is nothing magical about January 1st. We have an opportunity every day — maybe even today— to plant a tiny seed of something that matters. Something that might change everything.

    Don’t wait till January 1st to make what matters happen.
    Don’t wait till you have your perfectly typed-out goal list or even your PowerSheets filled out.
    Don’t wait till the timing is “perfect.”
    Don’t wait to take a deep breath and — even if just for a moment — relish this life we have been given.
    Don’t wait, because planting seeds — the seeds of what matters at the end of our days — can simplify our lives and give us our time back.

    I have more work on my plate as I write this to you than any day this year so far. I’m right there with you, friend. Madame Overwhelm wants to come hang out and have tea with me lately. But, last night I sat in my living room with some girlfriends and this truth splashed on my heart like fresh water: I can complain that my plate is fuller than Christmas dinner at my mama’s house, or see what’s happening through radically different eyes. I can see the many things I have coming up — with work, holiday gatherings, family travel, etc. — as opportunities to hopefully help others plant seeds, to plant seeds myself, and to cultivate what will matter when I’m eighty. I’m not going to do it perfectly, but the pursuit of living on purpose is worth it. The alternative to living on purpose is living by accident, and I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to use my minutes here on this earth by accident. I don’t want to wait. Done is better than perfect. I’m choosing present over perfect and am starting NOW to set the wheels in motion. Will you join me?

    Let’s walk through this together.
    Let’s finish 2014 well and start 2015 on purpose.
    I’m all in. 

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    I invite you to join me on a powerful journey over the next few weeks. I’m nervous and at the same time so ready for this. Here are some options:

    1. Order your 2015 PowerSheets by next Monday, December 15th, to get them by Christmas or by December 26th to get them by the first week of the New Year (domestic orders). We anticipate selling out before the New Year. The PowerSheets are six months of intentional goal planning and action-inspiring worksheets. I can’t wait to fill mine out! We also have a whole new line of prints that can still be ordered for holiday delivery!

    2. For those who want to kick start 2015 in a big way, grab a copy of my book as well. Make It Happen: Surrender Your Fear, Take the Leap, Live on Purpose and PowerSheets are, well, powerful when used together. The book releases December 30th, and I recommend reading it and then starting your PowerSheets when you get to Part Four of the book — the Make it Happen action guide. You can view the trailer video here to see if this book is for you! You may even see a few familiar faces in the video : )

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    3. In the book, I lay out several action steps that will help prepare you for the coming year and will help you to set good goals if you are also using the PowerSheets. If you order two or more copies of Make it Happen (maybe one for you and one for a friend), I’m hosting a live webinar for you on January 15th where we’ll discuss the book.

    4. On January 28th, I’ll be hosting my annual live 2015 Goal Setting class, exclusively for 2015 PowerSheets owners. There is nothing magical about January 1 and, whether you have already worked through your PowerSheets by then or are just beginning to figure out your goals for the year, we’re going to dig in together. We’ll talk about how to take action on meaningful goals in the coming year. Sign up here.

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    So, get the PowerSheets or the book or both — it’s up to you! My hope is that we all walk through the month of January together as a time of preparation, setting ourselves up for meaningful success.

    As a little hint to what I am making happen, in January, my family is starting the adoption journey. We will have completed our home study next week, all the paperwork over Christmas, and then we wait and pray. We are nervous, in awe of where God has taken us on this path, and so grateful. I hope to share more soon. Till then, one little seed planted at a time. Most of the best things in life come little by little, with great patience, waiting, and a whole lotta leaps of faith : )

    There’s more, but stay posted to my Instagram for some surprises coming up!

    20 days till the new year, but here’s to starting the good stuff right now, right where we are, in the mess, in imperfection, and on purpose. I am cheering you on!

    With love and excitement,

    Lara

    P.S. Early-bird registration for the Making Things Happen Conference ends December 31st at midnight! Save $1000 here.

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    Today, we give extra thanks. Grandma Bunny went to be with the Lord this morning. She was surrounded by family and singing. I am so grateful for her life. Today we celebrate God’s goodness in giving us this spunky, hilarious, loving, Southern lady. Her 97 years on this earth were joyful and adventurous! Thank you Gina for capturing this video four years ago! We laughed and cried watching it today, remembering her wit and passion.

    I am still gathering my thoughts, but Grandma Bunny was the bees knees. The very first paragraph of my book is about she and my Grandpa Cecil. They made a profound impact on my life and most of all, on my faith. My fondest memories are of Bunny (her name is Celeste, but “Bunny” became a nickname forever ago) making up stories to tell me at bedtime, singing me songs about birds, saying funny Southern-isms, hooting and hollering like only she could, and charming the dew right off the honeysuckle. She loved meeting new people and she loved her beau. I hope she and Cecil are dancing together now in their Heavenly abode, as he used to call it. God is good. All the time.

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    Photo above by Emily March.

    This video from Inkspot Crow gets me every time! You can hear Bunny’s reaction to me telling her I was pregnant with Grace. What a great memory!

    I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7

    I miss you, Grandma! More than words.

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    Hello, friend. I know. Where in the world has blogging gone these last months? Truth: sometimes we have to say no to one thing in order to say yes to something else. This year has taught me so much, but mostly, it’s taught me that face-to-face time matters. Relationships matter. Community right where you are matters. And so, I’ve been pouring every bit of energy and time I can into nurturing those things.

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    My favorite moments — meaningful conversations, dinners with neighbors, sharing life’s challenges and joys with girlfriends over tea in my kitchen, teaching Sunday School with Ari, times of being silly with Grace and getting our hands dirty in the garden together — didn’t get photographed. Most of my favorite times this year didn’t make it to Instagram, but they happened and they have been so sweet.

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    I said no to some things I love (like writing you here the last few months!) while I finished edits on my book over the summer, picked buckets and buckets of tomatoes and blueberries, and loved on this group of ladies. I’ve also said no to things that were distracting me from what matters. I’ve been doing Nancy Ray’s Contentment Challenge for over a year now (blog post coming soon on my experience not shopping for a year) in order to say YES to needed heart change. I said no to fear and comparison and so many things in order to say yes to investing in relationships. Yes to big risks. Yes to my marriage. Yes to less time cleaning my house and more time living in it. Yes to prayer. Yes to making a magazine that is about so much more than planning for just one day (V7 debuts in 3 weeks!). Yes to doing things that felt uncomfortable, but were so worth it. Living on purpose is worth saying no so you can say yes.

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    What about you? What are you saying no to? What are you saying yes to? I encourage you to make a no/yes list today and see how it helps you focus on what matters. See if it helps you simplify your days and live on purpose. I am cheering you on!

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    Some news: 2015 PowerSheets preorders are now open. After three years of using them myself, we took all that has helped us take big leaps and all that has helped you make what matters happen into this updated design. I can’t wait to use these in 2015! Do you need these to make what matters happen? No. The PowerSheets were created simply as a tool to help people like me who need help taking action on goals and staying focused on progress, not perfection. I pray these will help you do that too! Pre-order now for guaranteed Christmas delivery. And there’s something special my friend Emily Ley and I have cooked up for those who pre-order. See y’all in November!

    Photographs of Grace and I picking wildflowers by my friend EmilyGrace couldn’t get enough of these flowers! And, I don’t usually talk about fashion, but I was gifted this dress from Shabby Apple, and I love it. Love the modest hemline and soft fabric. A treat to wear! 

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    Friends, it is with great joy (and butterflies) that I write this post. I don’t even know what to say here. I’ve re-written these first sentences about twenty times. Announcingrevealing… drumrollcue the confetti cannons… Nothing fits sharing the book title and cover with you quite right, so I will simply say, here it is.

    Blank white book w/path I honestly can’t believe I am writing this post. I almost quit writing this book about a hundred times — no exaggeration. If you’ve been following my book-writing journey on Instagram, you know this has not been an easy one. I shared back in October about how this book came to be and about my struggle with oceans of negative self-talk. Many people think that writing a book is glamorous. This journey held a far better reward than glamour, though.

    When you take a big scary leap and do that thing God wants you to do — pouring out the kind of love that leaves you spent and somehow full at the same time — you get cracked wide open. As I wrote these 224 pages, pouring my everything into pixels that formed letters that formed thoughts that formed a much bigger picture, I gave and gave and looked fear right in the eyes and battled comparison and so much junk and I let go and cried barrels of tears and though all of this, God changed me. He refined me through the writing process, and I am so grateful. I know that sounds odd — I was just writing, right? That would have sounded completely strange to me six months ago, too. It’s cliche to say that writing a book is much like giving birth, but perhaps it’s cliche because it’s true.

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    Is it exciting to be done? Yes. But, it’s not done. The writing is done, but there’s so much ahead including getting these words into people’s hands. I don’t feel shy in spreading the word about this book because it’s not about me. It’s the story of how I said YES to a new life and how you can too. It’s the story of how I said NO to what doesn’t matter, and how I’m still on the journey. It’s the story of how God took my broken pieces and made them into something. It’s your invitation to be still and let your pieces shatter so He can do the same with you. It’s the story of how the Good News became really great news to me and how you can make it — an imperfect life of purpose — happen too. This book, while it may have parts of my story woven throughout to illustrate each point, is not about me at the core. I wrote this book for you. The you who has a beating heart and a longing for so much more. The you who is wanting to make something meaningful happen. The you who is struggling with comparison or in marriage or feeling like you’re never enough or trying to find purpose amidst a lot of noise and heartache. The you who wants to let go of all your fear and take a giant leap of faith. The you who feels like the word “impossible” is crushing your everything. I wrote this book for you, friend. The impossible is possible. The best is yet to come.

    I wrote this book because my life was going nowhere fast and it was not by my might but by my surrender that everything changed.

    Parts 1-3 of the book will walk you through a journey of surrendering fear and taking big leaps. Part 4 is a workbook-style guide that will propel you into a life of purpose, one action step at a time. Get ready. It’s going to be a challenging and yet deeply joyful journey!

    I’m excited to share that Make it Happen: Surrender Your Fear, Take the Leap, Live On Purpose is available for pre-order. The official release date is December 30th (my Grandma Bunny’s birthday). Why am I telling you this in June? Because I want to be sure that whoever wants a copy gets one. The more copies that are pre-ordered now, the more Amazon and stores will stock ahead of time for others. So, I would LOVE your help spreading the word about pre-orders. Thank you in advance, friends! It’s exciting when something sells out because of demand, but it’s no fun when you want that something : )

    Pre-order:

    For single copies: In paperback on Amazon

    If you pre-order 2+ copies or 10+ copies, please order through Barnes and Noble or ChristianBook.com. Amazon counts all orders, no matter the quantity, as one order. So, this will help us get these copies stocked correctly so they don’t sell out on launch day! : )

    Kindle edition

    iBooks edition

    And there will be an audiobook to come. You can pre-order that through major retailers too.

    This book is best devoured with friends. If you pre-order 2+ copies, I’m excited to be doing a live online class on January 15, 2015, just for you as a thank you and to help you start 2015 well. Simply pre-order your copies and register you and your friend(s) for the 2015 Make It Happen class here. (Honor system — no need to send me your receipt!) If you are doing this as a surprise gift (birthday or Christmas maybe), you can add those names later on, if you wish. I’ll be emailing class info and some fun encouragement as January gets closer. If you pre-order 2+ copies, please order through Barnes and Noble or ChristianBook.com.

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    For those who pre-order 10+ copies, simply forward your receipt to me (lara at laracasey.com). I’ve had many people ask about getting larger quantities. As a thank you for helping to get these words into the hands of people who need them, you and whoever you gift these books to (or maybe your small group is getting them together) will get:

    – The 2015 Make It Happen class.

    – Personalized encouragement bookmarks. The bookmarks will have a personal pep-talk note on the back, so let me know in your email what you (and your friends) need a pep talk for. I’m excited to make these! The bookmarks will come to you in early December in time for the holidays, so you can wait till November to let me know each friend’s name, if you like.

    –  I’m most excited about this. You and your friends will be added to the Core Coaching Group. This intimate online goal coaching group will start in January and will be a place for encouragement, accountability, and I’ll be doing a few live online coaching sessions for y’all throughout the year. I’m excited about building relationships through this coaching group and can’t wait to get to know everyone!

    If you pre-order 10+ copies, please order through Barnes and Noble or ChristianBook.com and then simply forward your receipt to me (lara at laracasey.com).

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    In other news, I love the book cover! Choosing the right cover was a challenging process. But, the moment this one came together, I knew it was the one! It’s a perfect mirror to how I felt in writing the last page of the book: joyful, clear, and so ready for what’s next. I have the background as a painting in my house now. I was grateful to have designed this cover with the amazing  team at Thomas Nelson. It makes this book feel all the more a part of my heart. You’ll also find over thirty handwriting pieces in these pages, which makes me giggle because I got a C in handwriting in second grade! I’ll be sharing a little more behind-the-scenes about the process of writing this book, choosing a cover, and what’s next in my newsletter soon. Sign up here.

    There you have it, friends! Ahhh!!! How did the butterflies in my tummy just multiply!? Deep breaths. Surrendering my fear, taking the leap… and hitting publish on this post now! God is good. Let’s do this!

    photographs by Faith Teasley

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    Hi, friends! I’m a little late in getting my speaking schedule posted, because honestly I didn’t think I’d be doing much speaking this year. I had cleared my calendar to make room for other things. But, God’s plans are better than mine and He continues to pull me to equip others for what matters. My number one aim this year is to have meaningful relationships. The internet is great, but I really love meeting people in person! I hope to see you at one of these events this year:

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    I’ll be speaking on branding and the heart of Southern Weddings at Stone River in Columbia, South Carolina next week! Register here.

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    Photo by Amy Arrington Photographers from the Atlanta Apparel VOWS event.

    I’m grateful to join the Bliss and Bokeh ladies again this year in Charleston on September 22 and 23. I love this intimate retreat and can’t wait to meet new friends!

    View More: http://annakphotography.pass.us/laracasey

    Photo by Anna K Photography from the AmericasMart Gift Market.

    Later that week (September 25-27), I’ll be flying to Indianapolis (with Ari and Gracie!) to do a members-only event for The Influence Conference. I love this conference and the women who created it. I. Can’t. Wait. It was life-changing for me last year!

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    Photo by Robyn Van Dyke (who I had a lovely dinner with last night!) from the Making Things Happen Conference this past March.

    And, finally, I’ll be doing the Making Things Happen Conference for the sixth year, on October 27th and 28th, here in my home city of Chapel Hill, NC. I am very excited about the surprises we have in store for MTH this fall. We’ve learned so much in these last six years and we’re about to shake things up, combining the core principles of how to make what matters happen with key business strategy. But, most of all, MTH is about building lasting relationships. More on what I’ve learned in the last six years of leading the MTH workshop — and how I’ve changed in those years — in a post soon. For now, follow MTH on Instagram here and the #mthconference hashtag for some fun upcoming interviews with our speakers and lots of inspiring alum!

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    Photo by Robyn Van Dyke from the Making Things Happen Conference.

    I have been praying and planning and dreaming and working hard the last months between book edits to make these two days our most powerful conference yet. Seats are already flying and early-bird registration (save $1000 with the early-bird rate!) is open until July 1 or until we sell out. We’ve sold out six years in a row and the wait list averages 30+ people each year, so make it happen. I do this workshop to ignite change and purposeful passion in others, so I feel no hesitation in giving you a push to come! : )

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    The wonderful MTH speakers who are all past MTH alum: (from left to right) Amber Housley, Emily Ley, Karen Stott, Nancy Ray, moi, Rhiannon Bosse and Gina Zeidler (who will be bringing baby Z with her to MTH, Lord willing!)

    I also may be doing a webinar with Emily Ley in the summer (details TBA!) as well as a PowerSheets/business webinar later in the year. First, we need to get through magazine shoot season! A peek into our office below from Faith Teasley. You can take the full tour here.

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    Having shared about all of these truly wonderful life-changing events, though, I feel compelled to offer a word of advice about conferences in general — advice I would have loved to have heard when I was just starting in business. You don’t need to go to conferences to be successful. Conferences have great value for education and building relationships, but you won’t be “left behind” or fail if you don’t or can’t go. Perhaps your resources need to be focused on another purpose right now, growing your business slowly and steadily. I talk to a lot of young business owners who are trying to figure out where to invest their money so I hope this advice is helpful. Don’t feel pressured. Grow slowly and wisely. If you can go to a great conference, go! And get the very most out of your experience by asking questions and building relationships. If you don’t go though, you are still on a great path forward. I am cheering for you, friends!

    You can keep up with future speaking dates and get booking info here.

    So, who am I going to see this summer and fall? : )

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    Raaaaaaarrrr!!!

    What’s that sound? That’s this bear cub coming out of hibernation after a long winter. I can’t say, “where did the time go?” because I know where it went. It went into the 74,000 words I poured my whole self into these last months.

    View More: http://ginazeidler.pass.us/grace2014

    My book manuscript is finally turned in. It’s in second draft format, currently in the hands of an editor, and I am waiting for my next round of suggested edits to come in. This whole book process has been a new adventure for me — new in every sense. I’m going to share a behind-the-scenes look at the process of writing this book and what I learned in my next newsletter. Sign up using the little box at the end of this post.

    In my mind, May is the new January. I’m starting fresh this month. Starting new. Starting with a new heart after all I learned in writing. Spend 100+ days writing about what matters most and you’ll find yourself changed. But, I am taking my time in acting on that change. Well… some of it anyway.

    View More: http://ginazeidler.pass.us/grace2014

    May is my month to dig into new soil around here, literally and figuratively. I’m planting my vegetable garden and starting fresh with my PowerSheets. Purposeful goals take time and I hope to have a NEW, very purposeful, prayer-over, list in my PowerSheets by the end of this month. If you don’t have a set of PowerSheets, get one. We only have about 600 sets left and they have been going fast lately. Looks like y’all are feeling the need for a fresh start lately too! If you are reading this post, use the code STARTFRESHMAY for 25% off your entire order.

    If anyone wants to join me in starting fresh (in any way — not just in goal setting), use the hashtag #StartFreshMay.

    And, I’m trying something new…

    Join me in a couple weeks, on May 14th, from 12 to 1pm EST, for a #StartFreshMay Google Hangout. This will be really casual — a time of encouragement and getting to know each other. I hope new friendships are formed from this and I can’t wait to hear how you are starting fresh! Join here (I think you have to add me to a circle or something).

    View More: http://ginazeidler.pass.us/grace2014

    Let’s get intentional about how we are using our time in this busy season. Even if it feels impossible to put the brakes on, if you are reading this post, you have enough time in your day to make what matters happen. Starting fresh — in whatever needs a new start for you — will be worth it. I’m going to take time to pray (by myself and with friends on the phone — another new thing I’m trying to do more), read the Bible, and work through each of the PowerSheets steps one by one with fresh eyes. This is my month to look at how I’m doing just about everything and ask how I could do it more intentionally. I am excited and, more than that, just plain grateful.

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    Whatever that thing is that is calling your heart to start new, take the leap. Whether it’s a relationship that needs your all or a creative pursuit or loving someone well or writing your soul or gutting your closet or planting your garden — do it. Dig deep into fresh soil with me, friend. I can’t wait to be inspired by your #StartFreshMay journey too.

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    Join me!

    – Start fresh in whatever area of life needs it most. Start today. You can do this.
    Hang out with me in a couple weeks.
    – Sign up for the newsletter (below) for a behind-the-scenes on my book soon.
    – I’d love to hear from you here or on social media about what you are starting fresh with. Let’s encourage others too who might be feeling the need for this.

    May is the new January. Let’s do this!

    P.S. I’m going to release my book cover very soon, as well as some exciting pre-order news. God is good. I am so grateful. More to come. Sign up for my newsletter below to be the first to know.

    Photos by my dear friend Gina



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    Hi. I’m still alive. Very alive, in fact. More than when I last wrote you here. For the last two months, all day every day, I have been writing a book. That doesn’t mean I’ve been just typing words, though. It has been soul-changing. I’ve been battling with my fear — so much fear — and my past failures and, stroke by stroke on this keyboard, I have been battling to say no to the lies that tell me I can’t do this and YES to what God wants me to write.

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    Photo by Faith Teasley

    I presented my book yesterday in Nashville, but there is so much more to write — many chapters and edits to go. But, I am stopping in quickly to say:

    Thank you. I am so grateful for many prayers and encouraging words that have kept me going as I write.

    Keep going. If you are feeling afraid or stuck or lost, keep focusing on what matters. Keep going.

    Lastly, I’m so behind on many things, but all for a good reason. One of those things is announcing the winners of the Goal Setting Series Giveaways from January! Winners are below and were chosen by random. Congrats to everyone who entered and high fives to everyone who participated. The real prize is making what matters happen with your goals!

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    Walk in Love T-Shirt- Gina of My Pretty Pennies

    8 x 10 print of their choice from Naptime Diaries- Lydia of Lydia Photography

    Simplified Planner – Alyssa Kjondal

    A set of prayer journals from Val Marie Paper- Sarah Tate

    Headband of your choice from She Does Justice- Megan of Megan Elizabeth Photos

    Make It Happen coffee spoon- Elizabeth G. of Glessner Photography

    $20 Lara Casey Shop gift card- Rhiannon at Mom to Two Lovelies

    $20 Lara Casey Shop gift card – Karen at Your Stylist Karen

    $20 Lara Casey Shop gift card- Stephanie Richards

    $20 Lara Casey Shop gift card- Rylee Field

    Ladies, please email lisa@southernweddings.com and she will get your prizes to you! If they aren’t claimed within 30 days, we will give them to another entrant.

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    OK, off to write more. And until I finish this book, I’m having a “Finish Your Book Already” sale. Click here to see all of our new products.  EVERYTHING in the shop is 25% OFF with code MAKEITHAPPEN : )

    And whatever good is on your heart…

    Make it happen.

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