Hello, friends! It’s been quite a week announcing our growing family, shipping a crazy amount of orders out of my garage (I have the most tolerant neighbors!), and releasing my book. All great things that have brought an exploding phone and inbox, and a grateful heart for all God has done.
Last night we completed our home walk-through for our adoption home study, handed over the final paperwork, and now we are home study ready! Typing that is surreal. I sat in the kitchen after the social worker left and felt very still. I couldn’t get any words out. I felt like I needed to cry, but the tears wouldn’t come. This avalanche of all the things in the last couple days left me emotionally overwhelmed. With our growing family comes fear of the unknown: will God take this baby home to be with Him too? How will we raise two infants at once with a busy three-year old? How will this affect our business that means a great deal to me because of our mission? With the book release comes fear of those 240 pages not affecting anyone and fear of judgement from others for my imperfect path. A lot of fear and opportunity to draw closer to God in trusting Him more fully with all the things. I think of the father in Mark who says, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
As I sat in these feelings in the kitchen, a friend called. I screened her call, feeling hesitant and selfish. She left a message saying she really needed someone to pray with. Despite my own overwhelm, God kept urging me to call her back.
It’s the times I step outside of my comfort zone and say YES to Him that life changes.
I listened to her heart. I was reminded of God’s power to transform anyone and anything as I related parts of my own story to her. I prayed for her. She listened to my heart and prayed for me. Our exchange of time and prayer was the very best gift that I didn’t realize I needed. So often I try to control instead of trust God. I felt God saying: Be still, Lara. Be still and know that I am God and I am all that matters. I am all the things. I have all of this. Just keep saying YES to me. The best is yet to come.
Jesus was often still and withdrew to pray before He made some of the most monumental decisions. In fact, He prayed all night: ‘One day soon afterward Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night. At daybreak he called together all of his disciples and chose twelve of them to be apostles’ (Luke 6:12-13 NIV).
So, that’s where I’m starting today with 2015 Goal Setting. With stillness. With prayer. While the rest of the world rushes to set goals by the stroke of midnight tonight, I offer you an alternative: be still. Let’s do this well, with intention.
We’re going to take this day by day, in small powerful chunks, because there are no shortcuts to any place worth going. – Beverly Sills For the entire series, I’ll be sharing my personal progress and goals as well. And I have no idea what those goals will be yet. No idea! I know the heart of what they will be, but this is a series — a process — for a reason. You can microwave some goals and have a pretty list by January 1, or you can dig deeper and set goals that matter to you over the next week or so with me. You can pray hard about them and really weigh whether or not they are the best use of your time. You can set goals that are twenty levels below the surface, where the fiery good stuff lives, or you can just make resolutions that get forgotten and tossed aside come February 1. If you need an extra kick in the pants to make this happen, keep reading. I have a little something for you at the end.
I told you I was going to be open and walk through my mess with you and that this was going to be different than the last four years. Here goes!
A few things before we get started!
Here’s what you can expect in this series: I’m going to walk through the steps in my book and the PowerSheets together, as they were designed to be used together. I’m going to blog pieces of my journey using both. I won’t be blogging every step as many of them are exclusive to the book and PowerSheets. So, if you are using either of these tools, or both, take your time coming back to these posts as you get to each step in the book or PowerSheets. These posts aren’t going anywhere, so take your time and come back when you’re ready. More notes below for book + PowerSheets friends!
If you are reading my book: it was written for this season of goal setting and taking big leaps of faith. There are lots of steps throughout the first three sections and exclusive book downloads. Do them. Use them. Write all over your paperback copy. This book was designed to be an action book, not just a reading book. Section Four of the book is the Make It Happen Action Guide that walks through faith-based goal setting steps. If you haven’t gotten a copy of the book, it’s not too late. Get yours here. Also, if you are blogging your Make it Happen journey, you can get lots of free downloadable graphics to use here. This is me below, working through the book steps myself!
If you are using the PowerSheets: Everything you need is in there! PowerSheets can be used by anyone in any life stage — mama, business owner, student, anyone. While you’ll see faith mentioned in my own PowerSheets examples, they can be used by anyone, any faith. And they will make you work, friends! Expect to dig deep. More info on the PowerSheets can be found here and you can check out the #PowerSheets hashtag on Instagram to follow others’ progress too : )
If you are using both the Make It Happen book + PowerSheets together: I designed them to work together. This is the best combo. Important: start the book first and when you get to Section Four, work through the PowerSheets along with that section. I am pumped for many of you who are doing this now!
Do you need either of these to have an intentional year? No, but my prayer is that these tools help you greatly if you do use them. If you just have a notebook to do these few steps I’ll be sharing, use that! If you have scrap paper, that’s great too : ) It’s not about the perfect stuff, it’s about how you USE what you have.
Let’s do this!
First! Here’s the deal. Making things happen requires action. (Prayer is an action step, by the way. One of the very best ones.) As we go through this series, either use the comment area here to leave your answers or write them in your PowerSheets or a journal. But, don’t just think them. Thinking them doesn’t count. Write them out and, if you want accountability, leave them boldly here in the comments. I want to cheer you on! Friends, help me out here and cheer each other on, too. You never know who you might inspire or whose life you might completely change with your words.
An easy place to start in preparing for an intentional new year is to reflect on the good things in the last 12 months. Here were my 2014 goals:
God made so much more good happen than I expected. I am praising Him as I type this. He guided me on each one of these goals. I didn’t write both books I’m contracted for, but I did write one and that was plenty : )
Writing this list below of the Good Things from 2014 was hard at first and then, as I went through these goals from January, my calendar, blog posts, Instagrams, and 2014 PowerSheets, I saw so much good that God did that I forgot about! It’s so easy to forget the good and only focus on the challenges, isn’t it? So, here is a little bit of the goodness this year brought. I am so grateful to have made this list — so much to celebrate that I didn’t remember till I sat down to be still and write.
The things that stand out to me most from 2014 are all about relationships. Closer sisterhood with the women from my church family group has been so sweet. We had a lot of fun together this year, welcomed new babies, had a women’s book club, enjoyed lots of meals and prayer time, and we even hosted Sunday service at our house in July when our church decided to help us understand what the closeness of the Acts church was like. It was awesome. I am so grateful for the brothers and sisters we get to do life with.
One of those sisters, Tijuana, made a big impact on my life this year. In January, I was overwhelmed with my book writing and work. I was struggling with my packed schedule and feeling like I didn’t have time for friends or fellowship. Tijuana pursued my heart and didn’t give up. I remember so clearly one night when she said, “I know your schedule is packed, but we should pray together — even if it’s over the phone once a week.” I resisted. I got mad at God because I wanted to pray with her but couldn’t seem to find time between motherhood and work. God made me find time. I finally gave in and it changed my life. Every Monday night at 8pm for six months we prayed. I’m crying typing this. Tijuana showed me what faithful friendship is. No matter what was going on in her life, she dropped everything to get on the phone and talk to God with me.
I am grateful for closer friendships and new friendships. I could write a whole post just about this and my heart is already pouring out in thanks to God. Good friends became great friends. People I didn’t know at the start of the year have now sat on my couch with me countless times to share life. Meals have been shared, tears, fears. God blew me away with friendships after years of prayer and feeling like I didn’t have a local community that “got me.” I don’t deserve the friends I have, but that is a picture of God’s grace and goodness — He loves us that much.
If there is one word that captures 2014 for me it’s community. We felt God calling us to open our home and we hosted dozens of dinners, sometimes three or four times a week. Many of the friends who joined us at the table ended up in Instax pics on our fridge too : )
We had the joy of teaching Bible class for the 2-year-old’s for several months this year, took a very helpful marriage and parenting class at church, and were so grateful to be asked to lead our Family Group, which we also host in our home. When things got crazy in Bible Class, Ari broke out the bubbles!
I spoke at the Thomas Nelson Spring Sales Conference to present my book to retailers. It was an awesome experience to see a giant room full of retailers from Barnes and Noble, ChristianBook.com, Faith Gateway, and more, pray together about the books and stories they were being presented. Seeing so many honor God in prayer at a business event left me in awe.
Ari and I celebrated seven years of marriage. If you know my story, that is all God! He is so good. I haven’t spoken about this much online because it has felt so sweet and personal to me, but this year I changed my name : ) Lara Casey Isaacson. I’m not changing it for business, but in my house, I am Mrs. Isaacson and that makes me so grateful. Nancy and Will Ray have been two of the most encouraging friends in our lives and sent me this beautiful gift. They had Ari hand-write my new name and had it made into a necklace. I love it!
I did a lot of consulting with small business owners this year. I’ve been doing consulting since 2009, but this year in particular I felt very clear about how God wanted me to lead others. Writing my book helped me to put words to many things I hadn’t been able to express in the past and this, in turn, helped others too.
The garden. If you read my last post, you know this was my joy. The garden was a daily gift! I gave plants and crops away and met many through gardening. I started the Southern Garden Club and enjoyed garden tastings and talk with local friends. It was a joy!
As of today, I’m still going on the Contentment Challenge, specifically with not shopping for clothes. I thought I would do this for three months, beginning in September 2013, but God has kept me going. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been revealing and good.
I work with some remarkable women. That is a good thing itself. I am grateful to work alongside women who share the same passion for our mission as I do, sometimes more. This year, our business got smaller and bigger — smaller in the scope of what we do (I stopped doing Making Brands Happen in January) and as a result, bigger in our mission reach. In all of this, our team created beautiful and meaningful imagery and words for our seventh annual issue, V7, that highlighted meaningful beginnings to married life.
Small is the new big. We considered and said no to office space for many reasons. The prescribed path for a growing business tends to be: start small, grow grow grow, get office space, grow more and get busier. After my miscarriage, I realized I didn’t want any part of that plan. I wanted to stay at home where I can bake biscuits for my team and go right downstairs to comfort Grace when she needs me. So, even though we are bursting at the seams in our small space, we decided to do more with less this year and it has been a blessing.
2014 brought many changes in our office culture as we began celebrating working anniversaries, enjoyed our first annual team retreat, and decided to make this a year of relationships, hosting many in-person reader and community events. Our whole team travelled a lot too (more than me): NSS, Bridal Market, Engage, workshops, education, shoots all over the South, oh my!
It was a big year for product design. Nicole and I spent many hours in front of the big iMac. Nicole is pretty awesome. Some of the many things she took from concept to reality this year in our office: all new 2015 PowerSheets, the new Southern Weddings Planner, new prints, new desk card sets, scripture cards, and many more products that we have yet to produce. They are meaningful and I can’t wait to use them myself. Details to come.
Our former nanny, Meredith, got married and Rhiannon joined our family. These women mean so much to me! They will always be family.
The Influence Conference with Ari was awesome. I love the Influence Network and the women who created it!
The Making Things Happen Conference this fall was just so good and life-changing — my favorite yet. We made many additions to the format and it was a joy! By the way, today is the last day to register at the early-bird rate!
Grace turned 3 and started preschool, got her own bed, was so brave at swim lessons in the summer, and is just a fun kid. I love her : )
A huge new thing this year was something unexpected and will likely be the subject of my second book. I started talking to a lot of women about marriage. I’ve had dozens of phone calls with women I’ve never met, sharing my story and praying with them. I’ve made dear friends that have encouraged me greatly as well. God is good. I never expected to be used in this way through my own imperfect path and brokenness, but God does remarkable things with our broken pieces when we give them to Him. If you are struggling in marriage, know that the impossible is possible with God. I wrote my book for this very reason, in hopes it will encourage many to believe in what seems impossible.
Bible Bunch (above). Oh, Bible Bunch! For years I have wanted to start a local Bible study for women to dig into Bible basics and to build community. I had no idea it would happen this year and in the way it did! My friends Carrie, Randi, and I decided to take a leap of faith and ask on Instagram if any local women would like to join us for a Bible study at my house. We had space for 15 people and over 50 replied. We now have almost 100 women in Bible Bunch! God is awesome. We meet once a month here in Chapel Hill. Leave a comment here if you’d like to join us and I’ll email you info! Our next meeting is Monday, January 5. Bible Bunch has brought more than just new friends, it has brought life-long soul friends. I am blown away by what God has and continues to do with Bible Bunch!
Writing and releasing a book goes on both the Good Things list and my Challenges list. More to come on this in the next post, but I am so grateful for God faithfully making this happen. Here is the book trailer below and you can find more info on how to purchase here.
I was also grateful to get to record my own audio book. It was two long days of hard work and so worth it. You can download it on Audible, iTunes, Amazon, and get the DVD’s at major retailers.
The first-ever Faith Retreat was a beautiful end to 2014. I love these friends (below). We decided to stop and be still in a hurried season to get back to what’s most important: Him. We prayed, shared what God has taught us this year, laughed, and celebrated His goodness together. It was so sweet!
Up next, I’ll be sharing some of the many challenges that God used for my good and what I learned from both the good and the hard. For now though…
Your turn! Write your own list of good things. What are you most grateful for from 2014? You can write it in your PowerSheets if you have reached that section or write it in a journal. Either way, I also encourage you to share some of your 2014 gratitude in the comments to encourage others too!
And remember this: There is no room for comparison in making what matters happen. Whether you had one good thing happen or twenty, celebrate the good stuff and let’s help each other do the same. Let’s turn comparison into compassion and cheering on : )
OK, that’s it for today and that’s plenty to work on. Be still, be prayerful, and celebrate the good stuff today! I’m going to take tomorrow away from the computer and soak myself in the Word before I do anything else, withdrawing to pray and listen before I act. I’ll be back Friday with more!
Take your time with this and remember with your PowerSheets — or however you set and take action on goals this year: PROGRESS NOT PERFECTION. This is not about writing the perfect list with a perfect pen… it’s just about honesty. To make things happen, you have to start with where you are. This is a process that will have a big payoff, but you have to commit to working through it. Be still and let your year’s vision slowly cook, like a pan of homemade hot baked cinnamon rolls fresh out of the oven. They wouldn’t be so flaky and yummy cooked in the microwave, would they? Just a big pile of mushy dough. I’m not going to hand you your 2015 goals. We’re going to do this right and get there together. Sound good? Awesome! Get to it!
If you need an extra kick in the pants to make this happen, on every post there will be a big giveaway. Today’s is the new Make It Happen Collection Box: a Make it Happen T, gold foil notepad, calligraphy print, a set of PowerSheets for you or a friend, and our new signature sunrise stripe box with gold foil “Make it Happen” on the top. You can win multiple times and you can increase your chances of winning by:
– Commenting on this post to share your thoughts
— Pinning this post or any in the series
– Instagramming any graphic with a link back here to this post or future posts
– Sharing this series on Facebook or Twitter
– Blogging or in any way sharing this post/series
– For all entires, link back here to www.LaraCasey.com/blog and use the #2015GoalSetting hashtag. You are welcome to use graphics from my posts!
– Lastly, leave a comment saying you did any of the above. You can enter as many times as you like on all posts! I’m going to choose some extra winners along the way, too, for some special surprises : )
Why am I doing this? I know God put me here on this earth for many reasons, and He has made it clear that one of those reasons it to motivate people to take action on what matters most. I want you — yes YOU — to make what matters happen in your life. So, help me spread the word and let’s get all our friends in on this for accountability! Making things happen is always better when shared.
Here’s to a meaningful, purpose-filled 2015 — I am cheering you on friends!
P.S. I didn’t proofread this post because I have to get Gracie down for a nap, so forgive typos! My life motto still holds strong: done is better than perfect : )