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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    I just had a great talk with Nicole after doing three client coaching sessions this morning. I wish I would have recorded our conversation. We talked about believing in the gifts we’ve been given and how easy it is to beleive the negativity in our heads… and how VITAL it is to own your good.

    All three clients I spoke to this morning are truly brilliant. Yet, in some way, every single one had a different idea of their value than I did. This is the case with all of my clients and I know God has given me the gift of seeing through the trees for people. I see what’s there. I tend to see a LOT of possibility in people. My job is to be a mirror. To reflect back to my clients what is there underneath layers of doubt and uncertainty and insecurity: brilliance, untapped potential and that they are enough. They are capable. They are far more valuable than they see.

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    So much clouds our vision. Life punches us in the gut sometimes (sometimes lots of times!) and the world says we aren’t enough and somewhere along the line, we start to believe everyone else. Well, friends, everyone else is wrong. You ARE enough. You ARE capable. You ARE filled to the brim with talents and a purpose. God wouldn’t have put you on this earth if you didn’t have a great purpose. Here is one of the many things God says about our purpose and how we are to love others and ourselves:

    Of all the commandments, which is the most important?

    “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

    – Mark 12:28-31

    So, let’s break this down. First, love God. Next, love your neighbor as yourself. We tend to treat others how we treat ourselves, right? How we treat others really mirrors what’s going on in our souls. We project so many of our own feelings and problems and stresses onto others. It’s human. It’s natural. And yet, we have a choice. It all starts with filling your cup with what’s important so you can fill others, too. It starts with believing in yourself and literally stopping when you start thinking, “I’m not good enough.” Replace that thought with the truth. You ARE enough. You ARE capable. I’m going to say it a few more times here in hopes that it will start to sink in.

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    For me, loving myself means loving God first and filling my heart with what is good, pure, lovely and true so that what pours out of my own heart will come from a river that never runs dry. Oh, y’all. I have been on the opposite end of this for pretty much my whole life up until the last year or so. My river was constantly dry. And I still see the drought coming from time to time, but times have greatly changed. It has taken WORK and hard decisions and facing how I cope with challenges and facing my faults and fears. It’s work I keep doing daily. But, when I love myself in the way God wants me to love myself – as a child of His, as deeply valued and cared for – then, I can love others in that same way. It doesn’t mean being perfect. It means tending to your soul so you can be your best for others. Love God, and in doing so, you will fill your own heart so you can pour that love right back out on others. This all builds a humble confidence that brings lasting joy and PEACE.

    And there is a big difference between feeding our egos and true God-filled confidence. This is God-filled confidence:

    ‘Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.’ – Hebrews 4:16

    ‘But let us who live in the light be clearheaded, protected by the armor of faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our salvation.’ – 1 Thess 5:8

    ‘So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?”’ – Hebrews 13:6

    Good confidence is knowing our value to help others. That gives us energy and wings to soar in all we do.

    Dangerous confidence is thinking we are better than others and then feeding our egos to try to fill the void created by accepting the negative things the world tells us about our worth. Sound familiar?

    ‘Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.’ – Philippians 2:3

    I digress. Sort of. This all goes together.

    All around me, I see so many not filling their cups with what matters. I’ve been there myself more times than I can count. Facebook, fame, money, popularity, business and bookings vie for our attention. They promise us everlasting happiness, and they give us a great high for a moment… and then it’s back to “real life”. And we keep going through this cycle: boredom, I’m not good enough, so I’m going to get on Facebook to zone out and look at other people’s lives, now I feel worse and I’m distracted and behind and I need a bigger distraction. You know this cycle. I can write about it because I know it, too. And I am on a mission to kick it to the curb and help others do the same!

    I don’t know about you, but I got tired of the high highs and low lows. I wanted consistent lasting joy. And I have found it. You can too. Right now. It comes at a price. The price is letting go of control of your life and giving it to the one who created it. The price is humility and owning your imperfection and fighting the belief that the number of followers you have on social media or the number in your bank account or your beauty or your status or your ____(fill in your blank)____ somehow equate to your value in life. They do not.

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    My dear client and friend, Lori, sent me this video below today and it haunted me. I hope this helps you see where my heart is today. Believe in yourself and squash that mental negative dialogue that keeps you from the greatness you were meant to step into, friends. You ARE enough. More than enough! You are EXTRAORDINARY.

    P.S. I have been SO encouraged by your goal progress! The Tieks giveaway ends May 1!

    P.P.S. Ari and I told the whole story of our marriage – everything – on camera last week. I hope you will join us to watch the footage this Friday night from 6:40pm EST to 8pm EST. It’s FREE to watch live and we’ll be on live to answer questions. See you Friday!

    P.P.P.S. How ARE you? Really. Does anything I wrote here today ring a bell in your heart? I’d love to hear from you….

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    Anyone feeling like they need a little motivation lately? Some clarity? Focus? (Hand raised!) Welcome. You are in good company. Let’s light that fire again today, shall we?

    I wrote a series on Goal Setting & Setting Yourself Up for Success at the start of this year because I got really tired of NOT making progress. Yes, I have made a lot of “things” happen, but deep down in my soul, there were things I have felt God pulling me to do that I just hadn’t done. So, this year, I wanted to be more accountable. I didn’t want to end another year with regret. I wanted to make LIFE happen. Turns out, a lot of you felt the same way.

    If you are just stumbling on my blog for the first time, or if you need to start fresh, below are the links to get you moving. It doesn’t matter that it’s April. It’s NEVER to late to do what matters and start LIVING. How many people need to hear that again?? (hand raised!)

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    GOAL SETTING + MAKING THINGS HAPPEN

    GOAL SETTING FOR 2013, Part 1
    GOAL SETTING FOR 2013, Part 2
    GOAL SETTING FOR 2013, Part 3
    GOAL SETTING FOR 2013, Part 4
    GOAL SETTING FOR 2013, Part 5
    MAKING THINGS HAPPEN IN 2013: CLEAR THE CLUTTER
    MAKING THINGS HAPPEN IN 2013: PREPARE FOR GREATNESS
    MAKING THINGS HAPPEN IN 2013: TAKE A BREAK!
    MAKING THINGS HAPPEN IN 2013: NAME YOUR FEAR
    MAKING THINGS HAPPEN IN 2013: CREATE BOUNDARIES
    MAKING THINGS HAPPEN IN 2013: ENCOURAGE OTHERS
    MAKING THINGS HAPPEN IN 2013: THE BIG LIST

    GIVEAWAY: If you started with me on your goal setting in January or even just last week, I’d love to hear about your progress, big or small. The goal here is PROGRESS NOT PERFECTION. Honest updates will help you move forward. So, weigh in below. I hope to encourage you or pray for you. And you just might inspire someone else with your comment! As motivation for you, I’m giving away gold foil prints from my shop and a pair of Tieks (since the first winner never claimed them – YAY!)! So, comment below and fill me in! We’ll check in again on July 10th and October 10th. Mark your calendars!

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    First, a couple big things I learned overall. As I wrote in January, goals change! I’m listing my progress below on the goals I set in January, but I’ve recently updated my goals using my PowerSheets to mirror the change I’ve felt in my heart the last few months. More on that in a later post. It is so important to evaluate your goals and focus often. The second big thing I’ve learned is that, the more prayerful I am in my decisions, the more radically God changes my path and takes me to places I never thought possible! I’ve seen this play out countless times this year and it’s something I have really had to work hard on. For accountability, I’ve made it widely known in our office that making slower, more prayerful decisions is something I am focusing on. My staff appreciates this too, I think. It makes me a better listener, makes me seek more wise counsel and it means GOD is in control, not me! His plans never fail. I am impulsive by nature, so this has been a huge change and an enormous blessing to practice prayerful decision-making. (more…)

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    I have been having a lot of crazy thoughts lately. Like, “What if I didn’t have Facebook? Or any social media??” And you know what? My husband doesn’t. He never looks at Facebook. Ever. He is perfectly content with just having in-person relationships, and he spends his free time reading the Bible on his phone. That may seem archaic to some, or “boring,” but I can tell you that he is anything but bored. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. - Matthew 6:21 He is focused on what matters and it SHOWS in his actions and how he has completely changed in the last two years.

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    Photo by Caitlin Sullivan. Oh, what a life-changing two days this was! I love you all so much!

    I told the entire story of our marriage at the Making Things Happen Conference a couple weeks ago, and it was one of the most passionate moments of my life. It’s hard to explain the feeling of telling people your true heart – the good, bad and really ugly parts, too. It made me feel, in a word, WHOLE. OK, I have more than one word… it made me feel GRATEFUL. The kind of grateful that wants to do a jig, hug the mailman and sing at the top of my lungs to the birds outside. Yes, I did all three. God is good. Real good.

    Recounting all that we have been through (our marriage almost ended at least a dozen times several years ago – we were two ships passing in the night) and seeing where God has brought us is… truly miraculous. We both spent our days searching for fulfillment in all the wrong places early in our marriage. I escaped to my work and to getting “bigger” and to making money and to relationships that distracted me from what mattered. He did the same. Soon, we found ourselves constantly fighting, sleeping in different beds and feeling totally hopeless. We were miserable. We felt like it was impossible for anything to change. But, God…

    “But, God…”

    Those are the magic words.

    But, God didn’t want us to fail.
    But, God can make the “impossible” possible.
    But, God can bring the dead to life.
    But, God isn’t a God of “logic,” He is GOD.
    But, God didn’t care about our past. He wanted our hearts.

    I told Ari this weekend that I felt like we were best friends again. And we talked at length about how this happened and how we still have arguments and we get weary from work and parenting… but lately these things have made us stronger and they’ve made us see that God is with us. Our key to a strong marriage from what we’ve learned in our experience (from Ari): “The secret to success is the same as it is with God: give up your selfish desires. Live for another. You cannot be passive. You have do to the hard work. Jesus demonstrated this best. If he was married, he would have been an awesome husband!”

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    Marriage is hard and at the same time, the joy on the other side is indescribable. And I know it seems impossible when one person in the marriage is or appears to be more invested than the other. Been there countless times, too. I don’t have all the answers, but I know what worked for us and continues to make us grow closer – keep choosing God and keep choosing love. Love never fails. God heals all things. Too much to say for a little post. You can read the whole story of our marriage here.

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    Making Things Happen was about much more than relationships, but for me, it was telling the whole story of my marriage and how God completely changed everything that lit a spark I didn’t expect. It gave me a clear example of how ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.

    When you find clarity about your core, you have no choice but to act on that clarity. And, let me just say that the time between clarity and action can be downright frustrating. I know this first-hand! Taking action on what matters can be scary, but INDECISION is like jail to me. So, I choose action. I’ve learned that on the other side of “change is scary” is POSSIBILITY. DONE is better than perfect. And a leap of faith doesn’t mean you haphazardly go after something; it means you can envision a possible positive outcome and you believe in it so much that you have no choice but to ACT on it with intention… even though you don’t know how it will happen. You know that risking for what matters is worth it. The alternative is staying stuck and that gets you… in the same place you started.

    And so… back to Ari and social media. You see, he used to spend his time playing video games while I worked till 3am. And now, having faced the brink of what felt like death to us at the time – the death of being totally chained by our sin – we are PASSIONATE about fixing our hearts on what matters. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. – Romans 12:2 Those words say it all. It’s not social media or video games that are the problem. It’s where your heart is.

    Making things happen is about focusing on what MATTERS and physically doing something about it.
    Making things happen means making tough decisions.
    Making things happen is about grace, not perfection.
    Making things happen means saying NO to what is holding you back and YES to what fires your heart up.
    Making things happen requires guts. And fierce passion. And forgiving yourself and everyone around you.
    Making things happen – the right things – will set you free.

    I would love to hear from you in the comments here. Tell me where your heart is. What’s on your mind? I’d love to pray for you or give you some encouragement, if I can!

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    P.S. I also hope to get to know you in person this year! I am so grateful to have the opportunity to share and teach at these events soon. I had a rather crazy February with 12 speaking requests in one week after the launch of my new website. So, I spent a considerable amount of time praying on each opportunity. I learned at MTH that I need even more time here at home with Grace, so I narrowed it down to just four. I hope to see many of you at engage!13, Americasmart, Pursuit 31 and the Influence Network Conference.

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    Comparison isn’t just the thief of JOY, it’s the thief of EVERYTHING. If you are comparing your business, work, kids, marriage, finances, spiritual maturity, smarts, ___[insert whatever it is for you]___ to any other human being on this earth, you will continue to chase your tail and you will MISS YOUR LIFE. I am typing that in all caps, because I was so there. I chased “big” and “more more more” and “the best” and more followers and — you get the picture — for way too long. Until all of those things I had worked so hard to build by comparing myself to others started to crumble. Anyone feeling that way right now?

    Seeing people flooding to Vegas for WPPI brings back crystal clear memories of where I was five years ago. When I first went to WPPI in 2009, I was lost. I remember doing whatever I could just to ‘fit in’. I bought new clothes, I stayed up till 4am, I wore my heart into the ground chasing what didn’t matter. Don’t get me wrong, WPPI is a great thing. It’s not WPPI’s fault that I felt lost. It’s not ANYONE or ANYTHING else’s responsibility but YOURS to follow that narrow path. The path that not a whole lot of people follow. The path that leads to lasting JOY. Open the ears of your heart to what matters. Just because everyone is going in one direction, doesn’t mean you should, too. Everyone could be wrong. Follow the narrow path and do YOU.

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    “Doing YOU” means owning your core, your art, your flaws and your greatness. Just thinking about “owning your greatness” feels a little weird, right? More people are truly afraid of success than they are of failure. Why? Because success means you will be called to step out from the masses and be a leader. It means you will be authentically YOU. It means saying YES to what matters and NO to what’s holding you back. It means stepping outside of your safe comfort zone and stepping into the potential that you know you have. For me, taking that risk every single day is worth it a billion times over. I am a different person than I was back in 2009 at WPPI with a different life and a clearer heart. I say that with conviction because just about everything in my life has changed except my email address. God is good.

    This week, I’ll be joining some of my dearest friends in leading the Making Things Happen Conference for 100 people from all over the world. I couldn’t be more grateful for an opportunity to hopefully instill in each attendee this simple truth: make what matters happen. Forget the rest.

    I could go on, but Jesus says it way better than me… Matthew 7:13-27, NIV84

    The Narrow and Wide Gates

    “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

    A Tree and Its Fruit

    “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

    The Wise and Foolish Builders

    “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

    Friends, build your house on a firm foundation. Stop comparing and start leading. Do YOU.

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    So, I got this shiny new site and suddenly I felt paralyzed. I had poured my entire heart into every pixel. The new shop exploded. I had to hire a shop manager ASAP. We sold out of a lot of things way too fast (great problem, I know). There have been a lot of growing pains. Good growing pains and a whole lot of change.

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    Friends, change is awesome but it’s also scary, isn’t it? Since our company’s growth (like kudzu) doesn’t seem to be slowing down, I’ve been thinking about how much change I’ve endured in my business over the last decade. From it, here are 5 Things I’ve Learned About Business Growth. I hope these little nuggets help you, too.

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    1. I tell this to all of my clients, too. Be prepared for sudden growth. Streamline, simplify, automate, pre-stamp envelopes, take out the trash, clear the clutter and give yourself no excuse not to succeed when “Oprah calls”. In general, it is wiser to use your time to get your back-end organized and streamlined internally than to market yourself externally. Do one in preparation for the other. I learned this the hard way when we first launched Southern Weddings in 2008. Our brand exploded onto the market and I wasn’t prepared, so I ended up working 24/7 and my life suffered. My work suffered. I bit off more than I could chew. I kept thinking that “getting bigger” was the goal. If that is your goal, ask yourself WHY. Now I make decisions from my core – a core that is grounded in what matters most to me – and it never fails. Sudden growth still catches me off guard at times, but I’m much better at navigating those waters now with full sails!

    2. Done is better than perfect. And another phrase I say to myself often: One thing at a time.

    3. In times of busy business, stick to your CORE. It will guide you and help you make efficient decisions quickly. The goal in growth is not to get “bigger,” it’s to get better. You cannot please everyone. And, if you are doing things right and being very specific to your core, you won’t please everyone. That’s a very good thing. Your goal should be to capture a specific loyal audience, not the masses. We’ve had exponential success by following this model in business. When things get crazy around a launch or magazine release, we are all on the same page because we know exactly what our mission is. These are the little desk cards Nicole made for each of us as a reminder of our core and to be sure everything we do aligns with it. How cute is Henrietta? She is our office chicken mascot. Oh yes.

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    I don’t have to micromanage anyone in this office ever. They know what our heart is and they are as passionate as I am about making that heart happen. Specific and small are the new big. Follow your core. Say NO to what doesn’t fit your core, and take big risks in saying YES to what does.

    4. Growth is exciting, but be sure to prioritize. And “prioritizing” doesn’t mean letting things slide. It means being more efficient. When you add to your company, don’t forget the rest of your business that still has to run and run well. If your core services fall through the cracks and you spread yourself thin, your growth is pointless. So, be prepared, be efficient, get more help if you can’t do it all and grow wisely. Use your time wisely. Get off Facebook. Make things happen.

    5. Don’t wait to start your big idea. Growth is scary because it can mean big life change, but isn’t that risk worth it for what you really want?? The timing will never be “perfect.” As my friend Ritchie says in his new book, The Power of Starting Something Stupid, “Don’t wait. Start stuff!” Stuff meaning the things that MATTER. Take risks. Take risks. Take risks! In the midst of huge transition and growing pains and any time you are overwhelmed, just keep choosing what’s right. One. Step. At. A. Time. But, the point is to CHOOSE. Again: Take risks. Take risks. Take risks. Don’t let fear or a state of “overwhelmed” keep you from moving forward. Don’t wait. Start good stuff!

    I love this excerpt from Richie’s book: “I refuse to achieve success at the expense of my life. The two – life success and genuine fulfillment – will have to go hand in hand, because I will not keep my head down for the next forty years only to look up at the end and say, “Now I can finally start living!… Don’t wait. Start stuff.”

    I use this quote a lot because it’s true: A year from now, you will wish you had started today. What do you need to start? What is your “stupid” idea that you want to make happen? Leave a comment on this post and I’m going to give away another copy of Richie’s book to a random commenter. Even if you entered on Instagram already, enter again if you didn’t win! I’m so blessed to know Natalie and Richie and to have the opportunity to share my story in this book. I hope you grab your copy before it sells out! I just bought 12 for friends, and one for the winner here : ) Can you tell Gracie loves this book, too?

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    OK! Speaking of winners, there are LOTS of winners to announce! All randomly chosen. Congrats to Laura Frances, the winner of my Instagram/Facebook giveaway of Richie’s book. You will LOVE it! And congrats to the three random winners chosen to receive prints from my new shop: Annie {little&ever}, Vanessa from V3 Events and Fiona Cheng! Winners, email me and I’ll get your prizes to you!

    SINCERE THANKS to everyone who commented about my launch. Your comments made my heart so full! After working so hard on this new site for a year and a half, it is so wonderful to know that you have been inspired. I hope y’all will come back often : )

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    This free download and more can be found here.

    And really, I want to hear from you so I can hopefully encourage you or pray for you. Don’t wait. Start stuff. Comment below and tell me what you want to start. And don’t be afraid to comment. I know some of you feel that way and you are not alone. Lurk no more and talk to me : )

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    Y’all! I just got major butterflies typing this. It’s so surreal to be writing this post about my new brand and shop. Right after I had Grace, I felt a very strong calling to make a new internet home that would inspire people to live their best lives. A year and a half later, I am SO grateful for the brand that you see before you. There are so many professionals who have made this new brand possible. Ross, Alex, Sasha, Dmitri, Dima, Victor, Alina and the team at Flosites have worked countless hours with me to create a site that translated my heart clearly. (Guys, I have sweet tea and biscuits waiting for you if you ever come to NC!) I’ve never felt more at home.

    This site would never have happened without the ladies I have the joy of working with daily. They have worked so hard to help me get the finishing touches together. I have the BEST team! Sincere gratitude to Emily, Nicole, Marissa, Kristin and Emily Ley. You are gooder than grits.

    My NEW SHOP is filled with products that were created to inspire small creative spaces. We have so many more products yet to be listed – some are being listed as I type this! We are already almost sold out of some items even before hitting publish on this post. My dad always encouraged me to paint when I was young, so this shop is for you dad. I love you. You don’t know it yet, but I’m coming to visit you next week as a surprise : )

    Lara Casey - Brand-Board

    And, friends, I love surprises. So, there are truckloads of fun surprises in this site! Oh, they make me so happy! Rather than tell you all about them, I invite you to experience them for yourself. Pour a tall glass of sweet tea and enjoy! I look forward to sharing this new internet home with you daily and pray that you are inspired to make things happen. Huge thanks to the Blueberry Fusion gents for creating this video that makes my heart burst with joy! A peek into my world…

    To celebrate the new launch, I am giving away 3 gold foil prints from my shop and a pair of my favorite shoes. When I became a mama, I decided it was time to give away all of my uncomfortable heels in favor of something better. Tieks to the rescue!

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    Win a pair of Tieks in any color you like (I want to win my own giveaway!) and gold foil prints by doing one of the following:

    - spread the word about the #lclaunch on social media and link back to my site or this post
    – like my new Facebook page
    – blog about the new site/shop
    – Pin this post or anything on this site! There’s a ton to pin : )
    – leaving a comment here with your favorite part (there’s a lot to have fun with here!) of my new brand/shop and let me know about any other links or entries you made

    Winners will be chosen at random on February 28th and you can enter as many times as you like. Just be sure to leave comments here with your entries!

    Friends, God is GOOD. I am so grateful for this journey and for so many who have encouraged and supported me! Thank you thank you! AHHHH!!!! We LAUNCHED!!!!!!!!

    Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

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