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One of my PowerSheets Weekend Tending List goals has been to bake for one of the sweet ladies who just moved into the retirement community a few weeks ago.  Her name is Phyllis and she came out one morning when Gracie and I were walking to introduce herself.  She said she loves seeing us walk by every day.  ”Having a little youth in the neighborhood is such an encouragement.”  She and her husband just moved here to Chapel Hill.  Can you imagine?  Moves are hard at any age, but a cross-country move has to be a little tougher for our silver-haired friends.

To show her some Southern hospitality, I was planning to bake her a cake or my mom’s Southern Pound Cake, until I read how much butter was required.  Eeek!  I want these sweet friends across the way to live long healthy days, so I made my own Low-fat Banana Bread recipe and it is goooooood.  You’d never know this was healthy!

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I am not a big baker at all, but this was so easy.  I just mashed up the bananas in a bowl and, much to my french-chef-mother’s likely chagrin, just threw all the other ingredients in and turned on the electric mixer!  Voila!

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I made four mini loaves using cheap tin pans from Walmart, because two older love birds can’t plow through a big loaf like my family can (read: Grace loves this stuff!).  You can also use this recipe to make one big loaf or 2 medium loaves.  It comes out really moist, so you can bake a little longer if you want it more firm.  I prefer the gooey texture myself though!

photo 3 copyI also added a pinch of cinnamon that I forgot to add to my recipe card.  I love these recipe cards from our shop so much!  I’m delivering one of these mini banana delights to Phyllis tomorrow morning and I’m so excited! photo 1

I’d love to hear about your favorite healthy Southern recipes. What are your favorites? Leave me some links and info in the comments, friends.  Enjoy, y’all!

P.S. My 2013 Goal Update is coming next!

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Some favorite snippets from the lyrics:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Photos by my new lovely friend Anna.

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    I had a very vivid dream last night that I was skydiving. But, it was like skydiving + pretty Olympic-style diving mixed together. There were about 30 other people learning to dive with me, all in perfect unison, and I kept jumping way farther out than everyone and I was all sorts of off. I was the only one who couldn’t seem match the flock. We were practicing in a big foam pit and the teacher kept telling me to point my toes and try again.

    The most vivid part of my dream was that I wasn’t embarrassed or frustrated by my lack of perfection, despite the perfect synchronization of everyone else in the room. I got up and joyfully — gratefully — happily tried again. I was humbled and grateful to be taught to fly right.

    There’s no secret decoding needed for this dream. I have been humbled as of late. Except in real life it has been hard and I’ve cried and I’ve been hurt and seen my ego rear its ugly head. My heart has been challenged and God has been not-so-gently showing me that He wants more of me. A lot more. And I haven’t written about it yet because I don’t have everything figured out. I’m still learning how to dive. But, my fear is turning into flight as I let go and let God show me how. He is changing me. Again.

    Pride = about me. Humility = about Him.

    God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. (James 4:6 NIV)

    Five years ago I was lost and scared and also thought I had it all together. Through so many challenges that seem to come in tidal waves in my life — Ari and I healing our marriage through great humility and acceptance of our faults (and therefore deep forgiveness of each other’s faults), giving birth to Grace, wading through the waters of Postpartum Depression, trying to figure out what my new identity is as a mama, family sickness, and so many other things – I’ve watched God ignite change in me that I never expected. And He is not done and hopefully never will be. I am still very much on the prideful end of the spectrum than I am on the humble end. That’s the humbling part of this. I have most definitely not “arrived.”

    I never see these tidal waves coming and then suddenly they wash “me” away. The shore of my heart is left cleaner and fresh and sparkling and ready. But, the tides keep changing and waves keep crashing and slowly but surely, the shells that are carried from the deep blue get smooth and turn to sand. Amazing how the cycles of nature reflect God’s work in our own lives. God, your creation is so beautiful. Thank you for the ocean and these waves in my life. Just when I think you’re done with me, I start to smell that intoxicating salt air again.

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    Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:3-11 NIV)

    It’s the “He emptied Himself” part of this text above that gets me. He emptied himself. He made himself the lowest. He gave up everything. He gave His life. He could have just come to earth and made Himself king on a throne, but He humbled Himself to show us how to live. He is not just sitting in a cloud-carried palace in the sky; He knows our pain and that the very hardest thing for us to do as humans is to die to self. So, He did it for us to show us the way.

    And so I’ve been asking myself lately, “How do I LIVE this? How do I dive into the life God wants me to live and pour myself out for others like He wants me to? How do I fly right? How can I die to self every day??”

    Head >> Heart >> Hands. Our thoughts direct our hearts which direct our actions. With my head and heart in all sorts of new territory lately, I’ve found myself diving into uncharted territory. I’m still in the middle of this tidal wave pouring into my heart, so bear with me here. I’m thinking this wave will keep pouring for a while. And I’m starting to welcome it. When we seek God and ask Him to show us His way, there will always be more waves to wash the shore clean again and, each time a new wave crashes or water laps against the shore, the topography changes, the coast is nourished and new treasures are brought from the sea.

    In reading Jen Hatmaker’s Interrupted and her most recent book 7 (which Ari just finished also) and praying and reading the Bible, our lives have most definitely been interrupted in many ways.

    I’ve been thinking so much about my own excess. Excess of resources, comfort, food, clothes, and just stuff. I feel like I’ve been letting go of stuff constantly since the tidal wave of Grace’s arrival, but I also keep accumulating more stuff. Bit by bit, God is showing me His heart in this and changing me. We’re working on changing our lifestyle and drastically re-structuring our budget, giving, household and the way we look at our resources.

    We planted a garden and have been going to the farmer’s market, stopped using paper towels and I’ve been doing hours and hours of research on everything from organic farming to green living to tomato staking. And we have a long long long — I repeat, LONG — way to go. And here is a lot more to this that what I’m writing — this is just a peek into where my heart is.

    But, let me be very clear about these new convictions in my heart. It’s not about following a set of rules that will lead to holiness. It’s about my personal relationship with God and what He wants us specifically to do. Your excess and giving and change may be completely different than mine. It’s not about following rules; it’s about acting from the heart. It’s not about being better than someone else; it’s about being the best version of ourselves.

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    Photo by Faith Teasley

    The goal: pour ourselves out for others like He did for us. When we have excess it means we’re taking resources away from someone else who needs them. Our excess is showing us how much we have to give.

    We’ve started praying and talking more about adoption these last two weeks. We don’t know what God wants of us – whether adopting ourselves, supporting others in adoption, being foster parents, teaching and mentoring orphans… we’re not sure. But, I know it’s something. I’ve found myself up late at night many nights praying for children who have no homes, reading adoption profiles of disabled and older children and waking up in tears. My spirit grieves for the children and I think of these words:

    But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.

    Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’

    Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’ And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’ And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:31-46 NLT)

    My motivation is not about eternal punishment, but my love of the Lord. If you’ve gotten this far in this post, I know what talking about my “love for the Lord” may sound like. These kinds of words and phrases used to turn me off and still do when I don’t feel the heart behind them. So to make this a little more real, let me explain:

    Say you opened your mail one day to find a bill for $100,000. It’s not a mistake. You spent it all on things to make you “happy.” You can’t pay it and you keep spending, trying to fill a void that cannot be filled. The police knock on your door and say you have to pay now or be taken to jail forever. Stripped from your life, no time to say goodbye to anyone, you are taken to prison. Forever.

    A day in prison turns into a week which turns into a month then a year. A very dark year. You worry about your family. You cry all day every day. You feel like you could wither from devastation and the knowledge that this is your life for the rest of your days. You feel hopeless and angry and like there is no way out.

    EgLc5MmuKZKi5eCNWKG-PKILldfhViNmTj8bzBx-a7I,wpXp94li1Qn1xiSvLDnhJfRH-tYsyPGdy7MpZgMMbgk
    Photo by Faith Teasley of the Elberta peaches in our garden.

    And then suddenly your door is opened and you are let go. You are truly free. Someone has paid your bill. And brought your whole family to you and given you a beautiful second chance. Your jail record is completely erased, no guilt or shame follows you home as you are welcomed back with open loving arms. You are free indeed.

    So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36)

    Guys, that’s how I felt. I spent all of my heart on things that didn’t matter. I didn’t even realize it until my world started to crumble. Then, God — through pain and challenges and many dark days — came and changed everything. Every single thing. He set me free.

    For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. (2 Cor 5:14-15)

    His love compels me.

    SO, that is why I love the Lord with all I am. He literally saved me from a life that was going nowhere fast. And so the deepest desire of my heart is to show everyone – my mailman, the wonderful women I work with, Grace and Ari, my neighbors, my clients, strangers who comment on my Instagram posts, the old man who walks around the lake at the same time we do every morning, the UPS guy… EVERYONE I can possible come in contact with that God is real and good (even and sometimes especially in challenges) and I could not possibly have orchestrated this change in my heart myself.

    I did not make this happen. He did.

    I love Him so much for how He has changed my family. So much I can’t even begin to describe it and I want to love Him back with my life. With my actions and the fruit of my work. I’m sitting here at my desk feeling my blood run through my veins just as fast as this tidal wave has crashed in on me and I just want to jump through my screen and pray with you (yes, you) as you read this for whatever is holding you back from diving in too. The water is warm and crystal blue. (By the way, if there is something I can pray for you for please leave a comment here and I’ll do it.)

    I hesitated to write this post, knowing it would not be perfectly wrapped up in a pretty bow. So far, you’ve gone skydiving with me, endured a tidal wave and gone to jail : ) How’s that for a Wednesday!? My hope, however, is to simply share with you that He can change everything and make you new. Welcome the tidal waves. Welcome the teacher’s instruction to help you soar. Welcome the new even though change is hard. I’ll leave you with these words that say it all:

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    (2 Corinthains 5:17)

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    I love the South! I grew up on Chilton County peaches, hot boiled peanuts and Grampa Cecil singing hymns while he tended his tomato plants. My mom raised chickens from the time I was in 4th grade and trips to the feed store were a highlight of my young years. To this day, the smell of corn feed and the sweet sound of baby chicks makes my heart as happy as a pup with two tails! If only our homeowners association was as fond of poultry as I am, I’d have a giant roost packed with bantams and Rhode Island Reds. It’s no secret around these parts that I love my fine feathered friends — as evidenced by the small collection of chicken paraphernalia in my office — so I decided to honored them with a quick and easy summer recipe!

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    It’s so easy and delicious (and cheap). Simply slice a small seedless watermelon into 1-inch slices. Press your favorite cookie cutters into the melon slices. Drizzle with lime juice and fresh mint, place on a bed of local blues, chill for 20 minutes in the fridge (or as long as you need to get the rest of your summer meal together) and enjoy! We used local melon and blues and mint from our garden. Gracie loved these and kept saying, “Piggie! Chickie! Yummy, mama!”

    Happy summer, y’all!

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    For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:21) These words have started to sink in lately as my schedule gets packed and Gracie grows as fast as my ornery tomato plants. Notice the order of this verse. Where your treasure is comes first. Then the heart follows. Sometimes, making the right things happen changes our hearts. Don’t wait for your heart to change and for your circumstances to be perfect to take the leap. Treasure what matters. Take action on what matters. And watch God change your heart to be closer to His. A little piece of my treasure…

    Gracie-Treasure-Lara-Casey

    Where is your treasure today? Where do you want it to be? I’d love to hear from you…

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    I sat in my living room last Friday afternoon with Emily, Nicole and Kristin (and Marissa on Skype) and had to take a moment to just breathe. David Beahm spoke at engage!13 last week about stopping to smell the roses. I took a very deep sweet breath in. Emily looked at me, smiled and said, “Lara, this has arguably been the biggest week of your business life.” Yes, I suppose it was. I found out that my book has been picked up (more details soon!), had an exciting meeting on Friday and spoke at engage!13 on goal setting and making things happen. There’s a lot more to it than these surface facts, though. Sitting there on my couch with these amazing women I have the joy of working with, I sat back, took a deep breath and praised God for all the challenges, blessings and the heart change He has made happen in me the during the last few years. I feel like my journey with Him is really just beginning.

    I was really nervous to speak at engage!13. I get nervous when I believe in something and when I know I’m going to push the envelope a little. I stumbled over a few sentences at first and felt like my mouth suddenly became the Sahara, but I made it through by the good grace of God.

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    On stage at engage!13. Photo by Carla Ten Eyck

    This was my 8th engage! and I was so grateful for all of the meaningful conversations I shared. I prayed so much to build real heart connections there and God blew my prayer out of the water. It was a joy to see old friends and meet new ones and see so many of our Making Brands Happen clients (Mary and Jamie, Valerie and Jack from Sapphire Events, Yvette Price, Kailey-Michelle, Deborah Nadel, Amy Marella and Rebecca and Kathryn) and our Southern Weddings Blue Ribbon members (Holly Chapple, Whitney Carillon, Becca Atchison, Millie Holloman, Amelia Johnson, Greer Gattuso and Valerie)!

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    A bear hug with Holly Chapple, who inspires me to no end. Photo by Carla Ten Eyck

    Huge thanks to Rebecca, Kathryn, Trisha and team for giving me this amazing opportunity again. It was a magical week! Read more about the amazing Southern welcome party on Southern Weddings today.

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    Make It Happen goal setting workbooks we created for engage! with calligraphy by Lindsay Letters. Photo by Jeremie Barlow.

    The Biltmore was breathtaking and the gala on the last night had us all in tears it was so beautiful. We had so much fun playing dress-up for a night of Gatsby-inspired celebration! Nancy, me, Becca, Emily T and some feathery ladies…

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    photo from my iPhone

    I would love to see many of you at my remaining speaking engagements this year: Americasmart, The VOW Event, Pursuit 31, the Influence Network Conference and I’m thrilled to announce that registration for the Making Things Happen Conference is now OPEN! 20 of the 60 seats are already sold even before I posted this! Y’all are FAST.

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    The Making Things Happen work fires me up beyond words. This October will mark over 1000 people who have attended MTH over the last five years. We sold out in March and can’t wait to see everyone this October. Our amazing group from March…

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    I never dreamed that hitting publish on a blog post several years ago would spark this. God is awesome and has greater plans for each of us than we can ask for or imagine. Get your seat (we’re limiting attendance to 60 people!) while you can. Click here to register at the early-bird rate.

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    In other news, Ari and I have been assigned to lead the two-year-olds class in the children’s ministry at our church from now till the end of September. This should be a hoot and a huge blessing as we spend more time with Gracie and friends. She is growing like a weed and counted to 12 yesterday. I just about died. Meredith sent me this while I was away at the Biltmore. Melt my heart!

    The best part of last week, by far, was coming home to Gracie and Ari. Nothing beats the first hug after being away. Wishing you all a week that is connected deeply to what matters.

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    P.P.S. (I know. I’m an excessive P.P.S.-er!) PowerSheets are back in stock. We’ve sold out four times this year and are almost out of this last batch. Get yours.

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    A simple reminder of what we really need in life…

    Lara Casey Shop Jesus  gold foil print
    Print from my shop.

    P.S. Tell me what you want to make happen here and win an Instax Mini Camera and shop prints. The comments so far are SO inspiring! WOW!

    P.P.S. I’m speaking at Engage!13: Biltmore Estate Tuesday, having an exciting meeting when I get back and will likely be finding out about my book this week. Heavens to Betsy! Phil 4:13 All I need is Him.

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    I wasn’t going to write about today, but God woke me up at 5 this morning in tears (again). I’ve had tears streaming down my face all day today — even as I type this they are pouring. I’ve cried every day, at least twice a day, for the last two weeks. These are tears of sadness, but also tears of the deepest gratitude I’ve ever felt.

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    I have to tell you about someone very special. For the last 510 days, I’ve woken up every morning excited to greet her at the door promptly at 8am. We’ve had hundreds of sweet morning conversations about faith, family and a joyful little girl that we both love dearly. She’s seen me in my PJ’s after countless sleepless nights, through the thick of postpartum depression, through joy and sadness and sickness and in moments I didn’t know where to turn. Susan hasn’t been just Grace’s nanny, she’s been my closest friend. “Nanny” doesn’t even scratch the surface. From the time Grace was a mere 4 weeks old, Susan has been our angel. She has used every second of her time with our family to fill Grace’s heart to the brim with love and goodness. Gracie and “Miss Sue” have spent their sweet days together reading the Bible, at music class, exploring the library, singing songs, swinging and sliding in the park and sharing more memories than I can fit into a blog post. The giggles have been endless!

    God is good.

    Do you know why I know that for sure? Because I have proof of His existence through Susan. I know that He loves us very much and is watching over us. I know that He hears my prayers and gives far more than we can ask or imagine. Susan has been far more than we could ask or imagine.

    Susan has been my partner in shaping Grace’s heart. The fruit of God’s spirit in Susan is so clear. I see that sweet fruit in Grace’s smile and in her laugh every day. I see it in her affectionate loving nature. I see it in Grace’s curiosity about the world and her love of people. I see God’s reflection in Susan and now in Grace. There is no greater gift.

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    For those of you who have met Susan, you know her big heart. She was without a doubt created for great things. The kind of things that will change the world. When she hasn’t been with us shepherding Grace’s heart, she has been caring for orphans and widows, the poor and the sick. During her time here with us the last year and half, she has spent every Monday and Friday afternoon volunteering at the women’s shelter. Even yesterday, with her volunteering commitment complete, she decided to go give blood when she left here. I am so grateful to God for her heart! She is heading to France this week to continue her life of service in missions and then on to grad school for social work in the fall. Ari and I are so excited to watch her journey unfold. Oh how blessed those who meet her ahead will be!

    We were so grateful to witness her baptism this past Sunday at Jordan Lake. Yes, baptized in the Jordan! : ) We celebrated with her sweet parents after and spent the day praising God for all He has done in her heart. You can read her testimony here.

    Friends, I’d love to ask for your prayers for Susan as she touches so many lives ahead. I’d also love for you to pray for the wonderful woman who is going to be sharing Grace’s days with her now, Meredith. We all love Meredith so much and know that God has great plans for all of us in this transition. Meredith has joined us all the way from Norman, Oklahoma, and we could’t be more grateful.

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    OK, I can’t fight the tears anymore, so I will let these few photographs do the talking. I wrote Susan a book (literally) of favorite memories, but there are countless favorites that were never photographed. As we say farewell to Susan, we celebrate God’s goodness today in blessing us with her these last 510 wonderful days. I can hear God singing these words to her today:

    “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:23)


    *post photographs by Faith Teasley

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    This morning I watched Gracie sit straight up in her crib on the monitor and say, “Happy day!” Yes, Gracie, it is a very happy day. I’ve had this song and these radiant lyrics stuck in my heart and pouring out of my lips for the last week. A peek below at the brand new prints I just listed in my shop. I created the Oh Happy Day print for our living room to remind us that, no matter what, we have so much to be grateful for. The lyrics to the song say it all.

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    I’ve spent the last two weeks completely off of social media and it has been good. Good in a way I didn’t expect. I thought it would be hard. It wasn’t. I thought I’d miss it. I don’t. I thought I’d only stay off of social media for a couple days. It’s been two weeks and I could keep going, but I love y’all and I wanted to say hello.

    I am still letting this experience marinate in my heart, but I have one profound truth to share with you today: when you let go of something, you leave room for your heart to be filled with something else.

    As I’ve shifted my focus from a frenzy of online influences to the hearts right in front of me, God has been meeting me in the sweet conversations and stillness that I now have time for. We planted a vegetable garden (pics to come!), had lots of dinners with good friends, had a big yard sale for charity (the $516 raised will go to the tornado victims in Oklahoma — all my prayers are with them today), went to visit my parents in Florida and even baked bread this weekend. I learned a blanket stitch (from Ari who is a sewing pro from his surgery training!) and repaired a quilt that has been worked on by four generations — my great grandmother, Grama Bunny, my mama and now me. I hope that Gracie will get a chance to sew love into it someday, too. She has been exploding with words lately and had her first real conversation Sunday morning with Ari before church.

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    Photo by the amazing Katie Stoops, who came to shoot an editorial for us a couple weeks ago. This is also my iPhone screensaver : )

    Ari (walking in to pick her up from her crib when she woke up): Good morning, Gracie. How are you?
    Gracie (looks up, pauses): Good! How yooooo Daddy?
    Ari (stunned): Good!

    It’s not all easy, though. In sitting in stillness more with God, reading His word a lot, reading other books (I’m currently reading Radical) and spending the majority of my work time writing a proposal for a book about how to make what matters happen, my heart has been challenged. Like a lion facing off with a tiger kind of challenge. Raaaarrr. God has been shaking things up in my heart, making me question everything we are doing and asking, “Is this what God really wants me to be doing, buying, thinking, focusing on? Is this what He wants me to fill my heart with?”

    You see, Jesus didn’t have Instagram. He changed the world through relationships. One at a time. He didn’t have a megachurch or a megaphone. Just the powerful truth of His existence and the plan that God was going to reveal though Him. The plan of grace. The plan of salvation. The plan of freedom. I want that plan to be mirrored in all I do. So, I’m going to keep listening in the stillness and challenging what the world says is the path to success. I want to make LIFE happen.

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    Another signature gold foil print up the shop now.

    Social media, of course, isn’t the problem. Your work isn’t the problem. Distractions aren’t the real problem. What we need to question is our hearts in using them. I have found great fulfillment in using social media to inspire and cheer others on and try my best, through many failures, to lead by example and share God’s word whenever I can. I am not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but that is the point, isn’t it? The gospel – the good news – is good news to those of us (all of us) who are imperfect and need it. It’s really good news. I want to continue to use every platform I’m given for good. Risking failure in that is worth it. Sometimes a break is necessary to step back and make sure you’re doing things in the best way possible. It has certainly been necessary for me. I needed a heavy dose of perspective and it’s pouring in like a river. I’m not leaving social media for good, but I am going to use it less and differently from now on. The last two weeks have been so sweet. I don’t have all the answers yet, but stepping back to see the horizon is certainly helping me find some brilliant sun rays of clarity that are illuminating possibilities I never knew existed.

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    In the spirit of making what matters happen and making memories with those right in front of us, I’m giving away a Fujifilm Instax Mini and one of the new prints from the shop – your choice! We use the Instax Mini every day here in our house and my fridge and kitchen bulliten board are so packed with wonderful photographs of great memories that we started covering the sides of our fridge!

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    TO WIN: Simply leave a comment here telling me what you want to make happen most in life. I’ll choose a random winner on June 11!

    P.S. I sent my book proposal off to the publisher just moments ago! Oh my stars, this has been one of the most challenging and rewarding (46-page) PDF’s I’ve created. Thank you to so many who have encouraged me and prayed for me during this time. I’m so grateful!

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    I read a book this weekend. Do you know what a monumental statement that is for me? Truly an act of God and I’m not just being funny in saying that. It really is. 7 is the first book I’ve ever read without using an audio version or skimming or stopping at chapter 2. I went with my friend Nancy to see the author, Jen Hatmaker, speak last Friday. In my heart I laughed about someone like me, who in a recent blog post professed to not be a “reader”, going to a lunch with readers of a book I never read. I had no intentions of reading it. “I’m just not a good reader.” But, God had other plans. I resisted. My resistance held out all of 24 hours until I found myself clicking “buy now” on iBooks Saturday morning. I devoured every word. In 48 hours. And friends… it has changed me profoundly. More on this later. I want to act on the change in my heart before I tell you about it. Till then, read the book.

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    My friend Casey Chappell is adopting a baby this week who has downsyndrome and, while God brought them the funds they needed yesterday for the adoption fees (God is good!!), there will be so many needs for this new life ahead. Casey is one of my dearest friends and already has four beautiful adopted children. Her family inspires me to no end. My #SpreadGoodnessToday project is going to their adoption this week. Get your scripture cards and donate here.

    My first draft of my book proposal is due to my agent for review on Wednesday. I have a lot of work to do.

    I also have to write my engage13! presentation.

    We have SOLD OUT of the Making Things Happen PowerSheets four times this year and I am so inspired the incredible progress PowerSheet owners are making, myself included. We’re putting a few fun upgrades on them and will be releasing the next batch soon. PRE-ORDER your set now before we sell out again. We expect these to ship in late May/early June. Follow the #PowerSheets hashtag for updates and to see how others are making things happen with them. Also, the fun notepads in the first image are up in the shop now, too! These are our press samples, so just one available of each for now.

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    I’m so grateful that we are going to see my family in Pensacola this coming weekend. So grateful. I miss my mama and my sweet daddy and Grandma Bunny and my amazing giving brother… and I can’t wait to get Gracie in the pool : )

    Our new nanny, Meredith, starts next week. We are so grateful for Meredith and at the same time I may need to attach the Kleenex to my hip for the rest of this month. Words can’t express my sadness in Susan leaving, but I know she will change the world in her work ahead. God has great plans for her.

    He has great plans for you, too.

    Why this random short blog post? I’m taking some time off of social media. Maybe a couple days, maybe a week. I don’t know. I do know that God wants me to focus on other things right now. It’s hard to say no to the creator of the universe. : ) I need less “stuff” and more of Him. Less mental clutter, time replying to Instagram comments and posting pictures and more focus on Him (my goal is to get through all of Psalms this week). Yes, I easily take weekends off of social media and have for the last 2 years running, but I need that same focus in my week right now in order to make the things I want to make happen. More time to write my book that I know God wants me to write. More time to pray about the big change in my heart I feel stirring like a tornado after this weekend. More Gracie hugs when I have a break from work instead of looking at other people’s kids on Facebook. More face time and less phone time. If you want to join me, feel free. The world will not end. : ) Less is more. I love you all!

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    P.S. The randomly chosen winners of the Goal Setting Update giveaway are Lauren (print from the shop!), Mel (print from the shop!) and Monica (TIEKS! YEAH!). Email me your mailing addresses ladies and we’ll get your prizes to you. Everyone who entered, I can’t wait to hear your progress in July. I’ll have an equally fun giveaway then!

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