Jan 6, 2014


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I don’t write about and study goal setting because I’m naturally good at it. I need accountability and some serious pants-kicking to make things happen. I remember so clearly standing on a beach in Maui with Natalie Norton years ago, telling her I just “don’t set goals.” She challenged me, waves crashing at our feet, to set some goals that mattered. “Just try it,” she urged. “God wants us to set goals that help Him shine!” Ever since, that has been on my heart. I lived for so long thinking that we should just sit back and let God make our lives happen. While there is truth to that, God calls us clearly in His word to take action for Him and for the gospel. The Bible is an action book, not a casual read. Jesus had goals. He had a single goal and a core purpose and all of his actions centered on fulfilling that purpose. While we are not Him, we are made in His image and called to walk with Him. So, that’s what I want to try to do. I want to model after the man who laid His life down for others and gave it all and didn’t care about material things and loved people so passionately. I will never come close to having a heart like His here on this earth, but I thing the pursuit of that will be worth all of my failures and shortcomings. Setting goals is good. We need direction and a path to what matters. It’s when we start setting goals that don’t include Him that things get a little (here comes my favorite Southern word!) cattywampus.

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails. (Proverbs 19:21)


So, last year, I decided things were going to be different. I started my first Goal Setting series to lay out a process that was more thoughtful than what I had done in the past. From there, I developed the PowerSheets and this whole process changed my life. With my PowerSheets, I started to be more mindful of taking action on my core purpose. I realized that I had to give myself a structure or I’d fall into my old habits and forget my goals. So, I pasted my PowerSheets Tending List to the front of my binder each month and kept it out on my desk so I saw it every single day. I prayed on my goals. I even posted my 2013 goals on my new about page for accountability. As I expected, my goals changed through the year. They got clearer. This is why the PowerSheets were only created for a 6 month timeframe. There’s no magic to 356 days. We should always be re-evaluating our goals, not just at the start of a new calendar year. I posted my progress every three months (or when I could!) here: AprilAugustOctober. I am so exceedingly grateful that I wrote things down throughout the year. This was new for me and completely changed things.  It gave me so much more to celebrate because I didn’t forget good things or let negative things overshadow them. This helped me to have the energy and confidence to keep going when things got hard. It helped me see so much more of God’s goodness that was there all along. 2013, by the grace of God, was a really incredible year. And not because everything went well. It was a great year because I learned more about God’s heart through challenges and mistakes and triumphs and failures. I learned more about where He wants my attention and energy.  Here are what my 2013 Goals were:



My update for these 2013 goals is simple: God made it happen.  I made significant strides on all of these goals because of His guidance and grace. I still have a long way to go in many of these areas, but I am in awe of how He worked in my life this year.  While I didn’t finish reading the Bible completely by December 31, reading it daily this year is honestly where I found the most clear direction to make these things happen.  What I learned from all of this:  His plans never fail.  Ever.  They just don’t.  Times I pursued things for my ego or lost sight of His purpose for my life, I failed.  When I did things for the bigger picture — to build others up in love for Him — He blessed those things.  Now, when I say “blessed them” I mean He gave me clear guidance and sometimes that guidance was hard.  Sometimes it meant I had to fail at something in order to move forward on His path. But, it was all for a great reason. I also learned that tending to goals little by little is where real lasting and continual progress comes from.   I think “little by little” was my key phrase for 2013 and it still is.  My Tending List in the PowerSheets was instrumental in keeping me on track.  Little by little seeds turn into trees.  Little by little babies grow.  Little by little — and sometimes in an instant — He makes all things new.

OK, I have 20-something days to finish my book manuscript, so I would definitely appreciate your prayers.  My 2014 Goals are up next, but I need a few more days to think on them and get into this manuscript.  Till then, post your own 2014 Goals on my last post or feel free to wait till I post mine later this week! I am praying that you all have a remarkable start to 2014 and that you keep your eye on the goal!  We can do this, friends!

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  1. Rhiannon on January 6, 2014 at 6:45 pm

    Go Lara Go! You can do it!

  2. Brittany on January 6, 2014 at 6:54 pm

    I’m still working on my goals too! Started the goal setting series over the weekend and have been mulling it over since. ThankYOU for being such a light 🙂 Hope everything goes well with the book manuscript!!! 🙂 xo

  3. dawn on January 6, 2014 at 8:20 pm

    dearest lara,
    today i found your site … i did not know of you before today … i was drawn to your beautiful downloads and enthusiasm for life … i just finished reading your entire story … i am considerably older than you, but can relate to so much of what you wrote … the ups, the downs, starting over, not knowing where to start, one foot in front of the other, i can not imagine life without my savior … he is a light unto my feet … the past 3 months have been particularly trying and i chose these my ‘words’ for this year (they chose me, actually) … hope and optimism … when i read the verse you held in your heart (isaiah 40:31) my eyes welled with tears … a confirmation to continue to move forward. thank you for sharing so openly about your life … we all need to know lives are not perfect and there are listening ears … you are most certainly making a difference … x

    • Lara on January 6, 2014 at 8:27 pm

      Dawn, your encouragement means the world. I’m so happy to meet you here!

  4. Bev C on January 6, 2014 at 8:59 pm

    Thank you for sharing your goals wch to illustrated how crucial the why is and yet how simplified.

  5. Megan on January 6, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    Lara, you have such an amazing way of expressing your goals and your heart! I did a bit of a look back on my last year’s goals and what worked/what didn’t on my blog. I set simple, clear cut goals for 2014. Looking forward to reading yours! Thanks for the helpful posts. Here are my goals! https://sugarmegnolia.blogspot.com/2014/01/2014-goals.html

  6. monique on January 6, 2014 at 10:35 pm

    I loved seeing how my goals this year were really just refinements of my goals from last year… For example, living a more Christ centered life where I fad a basic goal of loving others and following Him combined with my goals to create and heal and became new goals this year. Goals about creating a blog for healing from a loved one’s addictions and developing stronger relationships with those around me… it’s one of the reasons I picked the word “transformation” this year… because if I have come and changed this much, how much more amazing it can be with further transformation?! Love you Lara! I will be praying for you as you work diligently on your manuscript and goals!

  7. Katie @ A Place to Dwell on January 6, 2014 at 10:52 pm

    “What I learned from all of this: His plans never fail. Ever. They just don’t. Times I pursued things for my ego or lost sight of His purpose for my life, I failed. When I did things for the bigger picture — to build others up in love for Him — He blessed those things. Now, when I say “blessed them” I mean He gave me clear guidance and sometimes that guidance was hard. Sometimes it meant I had to fail at something in order to move forward on His path. But, it was all for a great reason.” <— Yes, I love this so much. So thankful that His plan never fails and that we can trust Him in everything!! 🙂

  8. Katie @ A Place to Dwell on January 6, 2014 at 10:53 pm

    P.S. Praise Jesus for all you accomplished this year, Lara, and for your faithful heart to follow Him!! He is blessing others through your faithfulness to Him! 🙂

  9. Stephanie on January 7, 2014 at 2:57 am

    I am so in love with your blog Lara – it’s always a great source of encouragement and inspiration. Thanks for sharing your heart the way you do. I asked for the Making Brands Happen webinar series for Christmas & I actually got it – yay!! I can’t wait to learn from you and Emily.

    • Lara on January 7, 2014 at 2:34 pm

      Yay, Stephanie!! I hope you enjoy the webinar series! : )

  10. Bobbie on January 7, 2014 at 3:39 am

    I am still cementing my 2014 goals too but it helps so much to see how another Christian woman is really living hers out. Thanks for telling us and helping us and sharing this with us.

  11. KateB. on January 7, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    Go Lara go!! Get in the zone and God will bring it all to you! Thank you so much for all your guidance in goal setting. I’m still trucking along on mine through your posts, but this year I’m here two months earlier than last year! Love sharing cyberlife with you. Enjoy writing and the process of a dream coming true!

  12. Michelle Cross on January 7, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    Your words and your honesty are always so encouraging, Lara. You’re just a beautiful person, inside + out!

  13. Erika on January 7, 2014 at 9:37 pm

    Hope the last few days has gone well!! Love love loved reading this…and feel encouraged as I am someone who has never “written” goals either. Inspired and encouraged and ready to get started!

  14. Samantha N. on January 9, 2014 at 2:36 am

    Hi Lara! God has really been in my mind for the past few months but I don’t have a clue of where to begin…I am really feeling an internal tug–I can’t really explain it–to learn more about God, create a relationship with Him, and be confident to speak of Him as openly as you. I have attended Catholic schools all my life but have not exactly been “religious” since I was very young. You are really inspiring me to learn all I can and I think the best place to start is with the Bible. I have been consistently reading how you strive to read the Bible daily…I don’t even have a Bible. I don’t know where to get one or what “kind” to get {see, I have no idea what I’m talking about!}. New Testament, Old Testament, edition, etc???
    I know you are feeling a little cattywampus {did I use that right?!} with your book deadline, but I would so appreciate your guidance. Good luck writing your book, you have inspired so many people and will inspire so many more! I can’t wait to meet you in Chapel Hill for MTH 🙂 xo Sam

    • Megan on January 9, 2014 at 5:10 am

      Hi Samantha! Listen to that tug and go after it 🙂 Reading that just makes me smile!

      Hmm… a study Bible might be a good place to start and definitely start with the New Testament. It’s an easier read than the old testament. Here is an example: https://www.amazon.com/NIV-Study-Bible-Compact-Indexed/dp/0310428521/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1389243791&sr=8-5&keywords=Study+Bible

      You might need some help understanding the context and I learned the very most I have ever learned about the Bible when I did a Bible study with Beth Moore (I didn’t take it with her, but watched her videos and did the workbook). Anything she writes would be a great start.

      Good luck to you, Samantha! I’ll be saying prayers for you! And what does Lara say… “Amen, Hallelujah, Thank the Lord!” That applies to you, my friend! Good for you for reaching out!

    • Lara on January 9, 2014 at 3:00 pm

      Sam! Your heart makes me so grateful and excited! First of all, your heart is doing all the right things. I immediately think of the verse that says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” – Matthew 7:7 You are asking and seeking and knocking. Keep doing all of those things. Especially when it gets challenging. I remember when I was first exploring churches and the Bible — the more I would knock, the more questions I felt like I had. I got really frustrated that it didn’t all feel comfortable right away. But, that is what God wants to happen. He wants to change us completely and make us more like Him and that took a lot of seeking answers to hard questions for me. I would ask friends, but then I would also ways find the clearest answers looking things up in the Bible and in praying.

      As for the Bible, an easy (free) way to read it is using the YouVersion app or going to Bible.com on your computer (both created by the same company). There are really wonderful easy reading plans available (Soul Detox is a great way to start the new year) to give you a starting point. I typically read the NIV and NLT translations. Both are great, so just try to read a bit of each one and see what resonates with you the most. If you want a printed Bible too, a great one is the Life Application Study Bible in the NIV or NLT translations. I just got my dad the NLT one for Christmas and he loves it! I have the NIV version open in my kitchen always.

      Every word of the Bible is good to read – both old and new testaments – but a starting place for you might be to read Matthew (the first book of the New Testament). It tells Jesus’ story and will give you an overview of His heart and teachings. Like I said above, the more you get to know God the more questions it will open in your heart, but that will also make way for answers : ) And those answers build faith and give you confidence.

      Also, know that I’m always here for you (and anyone else reading this who may be feeling the same things!). I may not have all the answers, but I know a book that does : ) I’m praying for you, Sam, and so grateful to know you!

    • Samantha N. on January 9, 2014 at 11:06 pm

      Megan and Lara, thank you so much for taking the time to respond to my comment. I am really grateful to you for taking the time to point me in the right direction. Just reading your responses made my spinning mind settle. I feel as though I now have a focus and I have a starting place.

      Since you both mentioned it, I just purchased the Life Application Study Bible NLT translation and Lara’s recommendation, Soul Detox {thank you, Indigo gift card!!} online. I am SO excited for them both to arrive!!

      In the mean time, I will explore the websites you suggested, Lara. Thank you again. Lara, it really is so comforting to know that you are so supportive not only of me but of all of your readers. I am truly thankful to have discovered this loving community you’ve created…I feel like great things are going to happen this year! : )

      xo Sam

      • Lara on January 10, 2014 at 2:27 pm

        My pleasure! I’m excited for you!

    • Kyla F on January 10, 2014 at 5:14 pm

      I loved reading this Samantha! I am so glad that God has laid it on your heart to grow closer to him and learn about Him. He loves you so much and He will reveal Himself to you in new ways as you dive in fully to this. I will be praying for you! 🙂

  15. Megan on January 9, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    That first paragraph had me “amen”ing out loud this morning! I’ve been thinking a lot about how much God has, is, and will always pursue me and how much I’m pursing back. And goals fit right in there! They’re are His first and then mine!

  16. Jessie on January 12, 2014 at 3:49 am

    I got my power sheets today! (insert happy dance here)

  17. Heather on January 26, 2014 at 8:25 pm

    “Times I pursued things for my ego or lost sight of His purpose for my life, I failed. When I did things for the bigger picture — to build others up in love for Him — He blessed those things. ” YES! I so appreciate how you challenge me through the PowerSheets to make sure my goals line up with my life vision–not with a Pinterest-y version of who I could be or some idea of what I want others to think of me. Good, good stuff. As you said, “Comparison is the thief of everything.” So true–it takes my mind off of the Lord and living for Him and instead inserts my own (often selfish, unrealistic) agenda.

  18. Mary Coules on January 31, 2014 at 5:46 am

    I am finding a better balance in my life and it is all centered around connecting to God and focused prayer to rest in the stillness. My goals are big but what matters most is simple and becomes so clear when I begin to strip away the layers. Simplify my life and focus on Gods plan with what feels like a “leap of faith”.

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