Warning: mega post packed with goodness! Grab a tall glass of sweet tea and enjoy : )

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 on the things that matter most.  In fact, I realized I didn’t know what truly mattered most to me.  I didn’t want to end another year with regret about things I could have accomplished if I had just taken tiny steps along the way to make them happen.  I got really tired of looking back and realizing how much time I wasted on worry and things that distracted me from my purpose.  I started this year with one main goal in mind and several that branch out from it: to know God more and walk in His ways.  I wanted to finally do the things I’ve always had on my heart to do.  I wanted to make LIFE happen. Turns out, a lot of you felt the same way.

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I updated you with my first round of progress on April 10 and our second update was supposed to be on July 10th.  I didn’t forget about it, but I have had a really hard time writing this post for some reason.  I started to write this update and suddenly felt stuck — like I had nothing to report on.  Then, over the last weeks, God has been breaking me down to see just how much change has happened in my heart since the start of this year.. and how much more growing I need to do.  If you read my newsletter this month, you know it’s been a crazy time!  I needed to put the train brakes on to slow down and realize that I have made a lot happen, through God’s amazing guidance, the last four months.

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Photo by Faith Teasley.  Be sure to sign up for my next newsletter to see our full office tour on September 1!

So much has happened since my last update!  A few highlights…

– We hosted an amazing Making Things Happen Conference.  We’re so excited about the next one in October.
– We bought our house — praise the Lord!  Well, the bank technically bought it, but we are paying the mortgage : )
– I wrote a book 46-page proposal and it was accepted.  More on that later…
– Ari interviewed for and started his new job.  He officially and Interventional Radiologist and Professor at UNC.  I’m so proud of him!
– We said farewell to Susan and welcomed Meredith into our family. Meredith has been a dream come true and moved all the way from Norman, Oklahoma to be with us! Read her inspiring blog.
– We interviewed and hired Lisa, who celebrates one month with us today!
– Nicole celebrated 3+ years with us and renewed her contract (with some bribing – see here), Emily celebrated 4 years, Marissa celebrated 3+ years and Kristin celebrated her first wonderful year with us!
– I spoke at Engage! and Americasmart.
Emily and I worked with 22 incredible branding clients.
– We launched lots of new shop products.
– Ari and I took a week of “stay-cation” and had a great visit with his mom.  Our stay-cation included a trip to the Piggly Wiggly — definitely a highlight!
– I read a book that changed my life.
– I took 2 weeks completely off of social media.
– Ari and I started teaching Sunday School.
– We also shared the story of our marriage – the good and the challenging – live on camera.
– We celebrated the one year anniversary of my dad’s baptism.  God is amazing!
– We said farewell to some great friends.  We miss you Thom and Bek!
– We launched the Southern Weddings and Lara Casey monthly newsletters.
– I planted a garden and fell in love with gardening (and got stung by a poisonous caterpillar familywhat!?).
– I had the biggest business meeting of my life.  More to come on that in a few months.
– Gracie continues to make my heart so full every day.  That is definitely a highlight.
– We celebrated five years of Southern Weddings with lots of favorites from the last wonderful years:  favorite editorials, real weddings, SW ladies, behind-the-scenes goodness, amazing photographs and our growth.  God is good!

My motto as of late: nothing measured, nothing managed.  My bulletin board is below.  This phrase has stuck with me lately because I tend to operate in the opposite way — I naturally prefer to live impulsively and coast through life rather than having a solid plan.  When I have a plan and a goal, it means I have to commit to something and there is a chance I could fail, so my natural tendency has been to shy away from goals.  Anyone else ever feel this way?

You know where this whole “Make it Happen” thing came from in the first place?  Because I had to say that phrase to myself constantly to get motivated. When I was in college, my course load was 56 credit hours per semester.  I had to kick my own tail to make things happen constantly.  I still do.  Over time, I’ve gone from being a coaster to a doer.  This is not “natural” for me.  If you’re in the same boat, welcome : )

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I’ve come to see that you have to have clear goals and be able to measure your progress to keep moving forward.  I need accountability or things don’t happen.  Leave me to my own devices and I’ll get distracted.  That’s why I made the PowerSheets and have devoted a good portion of my life to learning how to make things happen and teaching others to do the same.  Life is too short to coast.

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The basics of how to make things happen (read the goal setting posts below for much more!):

1. In order to make progress on anything, you have to first be honest with yourself about where you are.  Face the reality of where you are — with a heaping dose of grace for yourself — and ask God what you need to do next.  Is what you’re doing right now to make your goals happen working?  If not, redirect and take action on a better plan.  Be honest and gentle with yourself.  Progress, not perfection.

2. Next, dig deep to define what your goals/next action steps are. The difference between a dream and a goal is that a goal has a plan.  In order to set great goals — goals you will want to accomplish — you have to get specific and get to the core of WHY you want to make them happen.

3. Then, DO something about your goals.  You must take physical action.  Physical action is different than thinking about things.  This isn’t rocket science, but making things happen takes hard work.  Your goals must be more important than your excuses.  Are they?

4. And then, finally, you must measure your progress.  Whether you use my PowerSheets or you use a journal, use something.  Nothing measured, nothing managed.

If you are 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 August. It’s NEVER to late to do what matters and start LIVING. Today is the day — YOUR day to start making it happen, to get back on track, or to choose a new track entirely!

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

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

If you started with me on your goal setting in January or even if you’re new here (welcome!), I’d love to hear about your progress, big or small. The goal 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!

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Today is Awesome Confetti notepads available here.

GIVEAWAY:  As motivation for you, I’m giving away a set of PowerSheets (if you already have a set, you can give them to a friend who needs a boost or you can have anything in my shop up to $35!)!  So, comment on this post and fill me in on your goals and/or your progress so far this year! Why am I doing a giveaway to encourage you to comment?  Because when we write things out and put them in black and white, stuff happens.  You can keep your dreams to yourself or you can be accountable and DO something about them.  I want to help you be accountable!  We’ll check in again on your goal progress on October 10th and then at the end of the year. Mark your calendars.

First, a couple big things I learned overall. As I wrote in January and in April, goals change! I’ve continued to update my goals using my PowerSheets to mirror the change I’ve felt in my heart the last few months.  It is so important to evaluate your goals and check your focus often.  The second big thing I’ve learned (I also said this in my April update and it has continued to hold true!) 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! 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.

OK, let’s do this update, people! 

Goal 1: To know God more by learning about Him in the Bible and through prayer because knowing God means I will know what is right and good and He will direct my path. Everything good comes from that. God is my compass. I want to know everything I can possibly know about God so I can align my life with His will. I want to know God so I can change for the better for everyone in my life. I want to study the Bible and pray without ceasing. That means a lot of things, namely less time in my phone and on email and on extraneous projects and more focused time without distractions, reading. My goal in short: read and pray daily. Repeat.

// YES! This is the goal I am most focused on this year and where I’ve found the most fulfillment.  Working this goal has not been easy, though, lately.  I’ve had to get really creative to stay focused.  Sometimes I just read the Bible on my phone (I use the YouVersion App and the Bible Gateway App), sometimes I listen to the audio version (NLT translation) in the car or on walks or as I clean the house.  Sometimes I have to read out loud to myself in order to stay focused.  But, y’all…. something amazing has happened in this.  Not by my own efforts, but truly as a gift from God, He has made me love (did I just use that word!??) reading.  That doesn’t mean I am good about doing it, but it means I fight through the times I feel totally distracted because it’s worth it.  I have been so diligent about reading a book of the Bible each week and then I got to Isaiah.  And Jeremiah.  And Ezekiel.  These books, while filled with beautiful glimpses of God’s plan ahead for Jesus, are also filled with destruction and total devastation for sinful people.  Ugh.  This has been hard to plow through and at the same time completely thrilling because I see how much we needed a savior to give us a fresh new start.  As of this writing, I have FIVE chapters left in Ezekiel, hallelujah praise the Lord!   Using the Goal Plan I mapped out with my PowerSheets, I hope to finish the Bible by December 31st. I’ve never been so fulfilled in anything! My marriage to Ari and bringing Grace into the world are close seconds. God’s word is life-giving.

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Goal 2: I want Ari and I to have a more thriving joyful marriage because that will help us be our best for each other and Grace and everyone in our lives. Because we are stronger as individuals when we are stronger as a couple. Last year was truly a year of transition and miracles and this year, I want to celebrate life more together. I want to make Ari feel special and help him be his best. I want to open my heart and let him in more. I know I have a self-protecting wall up most of the time. I want to learn more about what God wants for our marriage and I want to DO those things. I want to help other couples do those things, too. I want to lead by example, in our failures and triumphs.

//  If you want to know more about our story, read here and you can hear our whole story live on camera in the Amazing Life Together recordings.  Doing the recording was a milestone for us and honestly the most vulnerable I’ve every felt in my life (Ari too).  Baring our souls and sharing our mistakes and all of our dirty laundry to the internet felt right because we knew it was what God wanted us to do and at the same time it was terrifying.  But, our story has a truly incredible “ending” and I hope it inspires others who have felt like it was impossible for anything to change.  Nothing nothing nothing is impossible with God.  Our lives are living proof.  Love never fails.  Also, I have all of my paperwork ready to change my name and decided to wait till after all of this travel coming up to change it officially so I don’t run into any travel hiccups.  Keep me accountable, but my plan is to change it by the new year.

Goal 3: I want to become more physically strong so I can be full of energy to do God’s work every day and give to others. I stopped weight training last year and that is the longest time I’ve been out of the gym. I want to be physically strong so I can live a long healthy active life and be able to teach Grace about God and how to live a good life through my actions. I want to fuel my body to do good things. I want to recognize when I am tempted to use food to control my emotions and choose God instead through prayer, reading, stepping outside to take a deep breath or just by being still and having a good cry if I need to.

// I am still not into a routine with weight training, but I am faithful about walking/running every morning.   Now that the weather is warm, I have been getting out before work with Grace in the Bob and we explore the neighborhood — around the lake, chatting with sweet neighbors and visiting the older folks in the retirement community across the street.  They looooove seeing Gracie : )  My Tending List daily goal is to work out hard and push myself every day.  I have definitely done that and my goal for the last part of this year is to incorporate weights (not just lifting Gracie all day!) and get my core strengthened (Grace likes to blow raspberries on my belly when I’m trying to do abs — mildly distracting!).  As far as food, this has been a wonderful change.  Are you ready for this?? ….  I stopped eating protein bars a few months ago.  I know, crazy right?  I have been known most of my life for my constant daily consumption of Luna Bars and other various bars.  Then I read 7 and God convicted me that the two things I was consuming way too much of and relying on were social media (so I stopped using it cold turkey for a couple weeks and largely ignored it for many weeks after) and protein bars.  I thought I couldn’t live without them, so I put it to the test.  Not only did I live without them, I started to really live more without them.  I felt an enormous weight lift from my shoulders.  I was forced to eat more whole foods and slow down for meals and, without consistent social media in my life for 6 weeks, I started to see my focus shift away from having my brain on the internet to seeking what matters most in my heart.  It freed my time so that God could fill those gaps with things that last.  I have a long way to go there but that was a kick-start that I am so grateful for.  It changed me.

Goal 4: I want to stop breastfeeding, Lord willing, by Valentines day (I started weaning last week) and stay emotionally fit, despite the hormonal changes. I want to keep my energy up and give thanks, despite my current feelings (imagine if you didn’t have a period for two years and your hormones decided to start creating one… that’s where I am). I want to do whatever I can naturally to regulate my hormones so that I can be my best for my family, my staff and my friends. I also really want those 3+ hours a day back to do more for God every day. And, at the same time, I don’t want to lose the beautiful thing I have learned in all of this – that taking time to be still during the day is a very good thing.

// Check!  Read my update from April for the details on how I stopped.  Done and done.

Goal 5: I want to be humble and learn a lot this year about a lot of things so I can do what I do well. I want to learn skills that will help me be a light for other’s to know God. I want to be a better more skilled designer so I can spend less time creating graphics and so I can create inspiring products that help people focus on what is good in life. I want to learn to be a better leader so I can build my team up and equip them to do the same for others. I want to learn how to cook special dishes that make my family feel special. I want to learn how to keep plants alive more than a few weeks. I want to continue my calligraphy training so that I can write beautiful letters to special friends. I want to learn how to be a better writer so I can communicate my thoughts in a more compelling authentic way. I want to learn how to do my job in a more direct, powerful, efficient way so I can make more of an impact on everyone I meet. I want to learn more about investing and finances so I can be a better steward of our money. I want to learn so I can give more.

// DesignNicole has continued to teach me so much! Leading – I’ve been studying the Old Testament leaders in the Bible and following our new staff meeting agenda. So helpful. Cooking – I have loved cooking lately and even posted a recipe that I love here on my blog.  I’m hoping to convince my mom to write down all of her family recipes in a book when I go visit soon. I have loved baking and making better meals with veggies from our little garden and from the farmer’s market.  Summer in the South is my favorite! Plants – YES!  We have a thriving garden full of yummy things that I love to tend to.  So grateful for this! I’m going to pick our watermelon today : )  Calligraphy – I decided to focus on my handwriting instead. I’ve been having a lot of fun with my #LaraNotes posts on Instagram. Writing – Well, I have a book to write now.  I haven’t started yet, but there is a lot of writing in my future!  Job efficiency – Yes. How’s that for an efficient update? Emily Ley and I will be doing a webinar soon where we will talk about how we organize our time. Finances – This has been the biggest answered prayer in this category.  We now have a clear personal budget, a savings and investment plan (with many thanks to our dear friend and financial coach Will Ray!) and I hired a new accountant for our business who has been so helpful thus far.  Guys, I can’t tell you what a relief all of this is!

Goal 6: I want to learn how to be more efficient and reach more people with less time away from my family. I want to spend less time on the phone with clients and far less timing emailing. My goal is to find revenue streams this year that are more automated, yet help people in a profound personal way.

// Yes, our shop has done well and I’ve continued to fight for my boundaries to keep my time focused on what matters. Read more about how I set boundaries here. I’ve also discovered ways to be more productive with clients. Phone calls help us have less email together (great for both of us!) and I generally get more accomplished with a client on the phone. There is a far greater personal connection, and that’s the goal. Since I’ve been more prayerful with client work and intentional in how I guide them, I am also loving my work more. I cherish my client calls because, while I might be the one teaching, I end up learning more than I think I teach just in the act of listening. I’ll also be speaking at a few places in the next few months.  Speaking gives me the opportunity to affect more people at once and therefore spend less time on the computer or in sessions…

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Goal 7: I want to learn how to be a better mom. I currently don’t read anything on parenting. I fly by the seat of my pants. I want to learn from others who do it well and become a mother full of wisdom so that Grace can be her best under our care. I want to raise her to be giving and pure and to have a heart of grateful JOY. I want to help Grace have more play friends and be a living example of the Bible for her in our actions. I want to be much more patient and less controlling and let go of my life so I can live in hers.

// I love being Grace’s mom.  So so so so much.  Since April, her vocabulary has exploded and our little conversations are so precious.  I want to spend more time with her always.  I feel much more secure as a mama lately, thank you sweet Lord!

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Goal 8: I want to continue to build a remarkable business that is a catalyst for real LOVE. I want my clients to have better LIVES and I want our brides to have strong MARRIAGES. I want to be a centered sounding board and prayerfully guide my clients this year to their fullest potential. My goal is to always come back to our CORE and to keep refining it.

// YES YES and YES! It becomes clearer and clear to me by the day that, the more we focus on our core and refine it to align with God’s will, the more powerful our work is on all levels. Our core mission is to inspire brides to cultivate a life full of love – celebrating their families, the rich culture of the South and what matters most to them – and then to draw from that rich well to create a meaningful beginning to married life! Through our weekly staff meetings and all of the decisions we make, we come back to this core mission daily and it clarifies everything. We’ve had SO many great staff meetings lately centered on our core and taking action on that daily.  I am so grateful for Nicole, Emily, Marissa, Kristin and Lisa!  We are in the midst of creating our next print edition that will, Lord willing, be a true reflection of our mission.  I’m excited!!!

Goal 9: To learn how to take better photographs for myself so that I can remember Grace as she is in these sweet moments. I am not really sure why for this goal. It feels like a very God-centered goal, but it’s something I can’t explain. I have this connection to great photographs… they somehow speak to my soul. They change me. I think a gift God gave me was to be able to see the vision of a photograph to create. I can see moments and the big picture and a vision. I don’t have the technical skills to match that to capture the moments I see, if that makes sense. I even bought a great camera last year. It hasn’t been used yet because I get really frustrated with technology and numbers and learning new skills that I have to read a manual for. I want to learn the technical skills of how to take the photographs that I see in my heart.

// I’ve learned a lot about light and processing lately just through observing others and studying.  But, for now, I’m leaving this to the pros!

Goal 10: I want to live with less, keep a new budget based on the historical data we have from 2012, and be more frugal this year because my money is not mine. It’s God’s and I want to do more with our money for Him. I want to not only give away things I don’t need, but give away things I love. Ari is really good at this. His favorite sweater was in our charity pile this weekend and, when I asked him about it, he said he said that it wasn’t really giving unless you were giving something you didn’t want to give away for the sake of someone else. I love that. I want to be more sacrificial in my giving.

// Besides my Bible reading, this is the goal my heart has been most changed by lately.  I am going to resist writing too much here because I think this needs it’s own post.  I will simply say this:  we can’t take our stuff to Heaven with us.  I have so much growing to do here, but I am so grateful for how God is changing our family in this realm.  I read Interrupted and it further convicted me that my heart needs to change more and more to be like Him.  All we need is less of us and more of Him.  More to come…

Goal 11: I want to build other’s up in faith and give lots of tools this year for people to make that happen. I want to study the Bible with others in my home and online. Going back to goal 1, I want to know the Bible so I can share it with others. Showing people the new life that I have been given and the indescribable JOY and freedom and love and genuine purpose I have found in this new life… well, that is something I want to share. Big time. If you were to find the most beautiful island in the world, you would want to invite all your friends. That’s how I feel about being in a relationship with God. I want everyone to be able to feel this goodness. I want to equip people with basic tools to know God more.

// Same as April here and equally as wonderful.  God has allowed me to share my testimony a LOT lately. And I see the fruit of how He is using my journey to bring others to Him. It’s AWESOME to watch God work and the greatest joy of my life to be His. I am fiercely committed to sharing what God has done in my life and continues to do. I have yet to study the Bible with anyone in my house, one-on-one (if anyone wants to do this, let me know!), but I have been praying a lot lately about starting a women’s Bible study group here. I hope to start this in January 2014 here in Chapel Hill and possibly having an online feed so others can join. I’ve already reached out to one of the leaders in our church about this.  If anyone would be interested, let me know in the comments.

Goal 12: I want to finally WRITE MY BOOK. I already have most of the content written and just need to put it together. Nicole and I started talking about the printing and technical aspects of this before the end of the year, so it’s in the works. My goal is to release it before the end of 2013, if not sooner. I want it to be timeless and done well so it will help creatives make things happen year after year. I want it to be a legacy for Grace to learn from as well.

// I wrote in my last update about being in the process of writing my book proposal.  Praise the good Lord, my proposal was accepted!  I’m so grateful to finally share that I signed a contract with Thomas Nelson/Harper Collins.  The first book manuscript is due to TN on January 11, 2014, and the book debuts 1/6/15!  It seems like a long way away, but considering how much writing I have to do and how much goes into the process of getting a book on shelves (and the fact that I have 8 billion speaking engagements and a magazine to make at the same time), this is a really fast turnaround.  I am so grateful for this opportunity and also entirely intimidated!  This is new territory for me.  My prayer:  God, give me the words you want me to write.  I’ll keep you posted on my progress : )

Goal 13: I want to continue to paint and create products for small creative spaces that inspire people to live better lives. God is the ultimate creator and I believe He gave all of us creative talents that are meant to be USED. I want to use my creative gifts much more this year: design, painting and singing.

// We successfully launched the Lara Casey Shop in February and sales have been very consistent with little to no marketing.  The PowerSheets have been our most popular product besides the AMEN print (my favorite), and have sold out now five times.  My own PowerSheets have been an exercise in discipline and have challenged me to take action on my goals and never tarry.  Painting – I’ve loved doing custom orders for the shop and I’ve had a specific painting in mind for weeks now that I want to do on my giant 5 foot canvas just for our home.   Singing – I’ve always had a secret (not secret anymore now!) desire to sing a solo in church to worship the Lord and bless others with the talent He gave me.  <— Saying that sentence is big for me.  For so long, since I left the theatre in 2002, I have hidden those talents.  I love singing to Gracie so much and that satisfies my heart (especially when she sings with me), but I think I should challenge myself and sing for others at some point, if the Lord gives me the chance.  I would also love to record an album of hymns for Grace.  Anyone have a recording studio nearby that I can use?  I will trade you Gracie hugs : )

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Goal 14: An immediate goal I have is to finish my website. It’s been over a year in the making and it’s a monster. The coding is almost done, my shop is populated and I just have a lot of site content to populate now. I’m hoping we can launch it late this month!

// DONE! We launched and I still love this site more than all the Luna Bars and chickens in the world!

Goal 15: I want to foster my friendships is a purposeful, focused way because then I will build a stronger bond with my friends and we can do more good things for others together. I want to be more prayerful for my friends, even when they don’t know it. I want to do surprise things for them to make them feel special and build their faith and capacity to love.

// Similar update as April here.  I have made a much stronger effort to be a better friend and to pray for my friends often.  Ari and I pray for friends at dinner as well and he has recently started to pray that I find a close girlfriend here locally who I can grow spiritually with and take action on big dreams for God.  I’m so grateful for that prayer, because I want that so much.  I’m so grateful for my friends near and far.  SO grateful.

Goals 16: I want to support new moms more. I had a really hard time after Grace was born and several friends sent me care packages that really made a difference. I started a new moms group and my goal is to have several care packages and cards ready to go for new mamas and expecting mama friends that I can send out right away. I want to support new moms locally, too.

// Same update as April here! I have loved working on this goal. I stocked up on Preggie Pops and little baby gifts and have sent lots of fun goodies out.

Goal 17: I want to send more real mail to build stronger connections with others, because hopefully it will help people feel God’s love.

// I continued my #SpreadGoodnessToday project in honor of Casey Chappell’s recent adoption.  I have loved sending these scripture cards out!  I’m praying on the next cause to support and hope to send more out soon.  I’ll keep y’all posted via Instagram when I do!

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Goal 18: I want to do more random acts of kindness. As often as possible because these things can help people feel hope and know that God is good. A little kindness can change someone’s life for the better.

// Yes.  Just yes. Except kindness isn’t random, I’m learning.  It comes from an outpouring of a heart that is focused on loving God.

Goal 19: I want to show my family God’s love through my actions so that they will know Him more and trust in Him. My family is going through a lot right now. They need a lot of love. My goal is to be sacrificial with my time and resources so I can support them and take care of them in their distress.

// Yes, God is good. He has answered my prayer for my dad to be happy and to have a deeper peace, despite health challenges that persist.  My grandmother is 96 and still kicking but needs prayer and my brother’s foot and hand were injured recently, so my mama has her hand full with all of them under one roof right now.  I am going to visit them at the end of August with Gracie while Ari is at a men’s retreat and hope to bring them all some joy.  I have been praying for them more and calling most days and I sent my dad some great DVD’s that we love to help him understand the Bible.  He loves them so much!  I highly recommend this series for kids and adults.

Goal 20: I want to be like Moses this year in the way he trusted and just DID what God said to do. He let God use him. I want to be open to change and trust that God always has the perfect plan. No matter what.

// As with all of these goals, ALL the glory to God! He has put a great peace in my heart this year, knowing that NO MATTER WHAT comes my way, He is in control. That is a scary thing to say and trust in at times, but the fruit of what God has already done in our lives is too sweet to mistake as anything but God’s goodness. It’s there for everyone. For you. Right now. No matter what you’ve done in the past or how lost you feel… God is here. He will make everything in your life change for the better even with faith as tiny as a mustardseed. That’s all it takes for God to make a giant tree of life grow in your heart.

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.” – Luke 17:5-6

So, what is it that you want to make happen? Comment below to tell me about your progress this year, what’s been a challenge for you, and what you look forward to ahead. We’ll check in again on October 10th. I want to hear from you this week so I can hopefully encourage you and so you can also encourage each other. Make it happen, friends. No more lurking. Making things happen means taking action. So, fill me in! Remember, this is about PROGRESS, not perfection.  Let’s make #IntentionalAugust happen! It’s never too late to start. Start today.

HELLO-AUGUST

Download free #IntentionalAugust iPhone backgrounds here!

GIVEAWAY:  As motivation for you, I’m giving away a set of PowerSheets (if you already have a set, you can give them to a friend who needs a boost or you can have anything in my shop up to $35!)!  So, comment on this post and fill me in on your goals and/or your progress so far this year!  GIVEAWAY ENDS SEPT 1.  Make it happen, friends!

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  1. Lauren

    My goal this year was to make my boutique, LaMaLu Boutique happen. I am SO proud to say that June 1st 2013 after dreaming and praying about it for 4 YEARS I made it happen. I did it! I have never been more proud (but scared) in my entire life. My goal for the rest of the year is to grow my little business as much as I can while making time for what matters most.

  2. Alexa

    One of my goals this year was to find the perfect first home for my husband and I. We are closing next week so I’m ready to tackle my next set of goals on organizing and moving and starting this next chapter in our lives.

  3. Emily

    My biggest goal for myself this year was to take some time each day for myself. I am college student and worked all through my first year, as well as working three jobs this summer to cover tuition costs. Between working and school work, I barely had time to see my friends, get involved in my school, write blog posts for my food blog or take a chance to breathe. To change this, I tried to make small chunks of time in my life to do things I love. Every night I set aside 30 minutes to read and each weekend I make time to go to the local farmer’s market, see my friends, and attend mass. Doing these small activities has made such a difference in my life! I am proud to say that I am slowly learning how to take time for myself, something I never knew how to do before!

  4. Stephanie

    How is it that one person can be so inspiring and motivational? I am so impressed by your ability to allow the Lord to speak through you.

    I started this year off with setting my goals and using your blog as a guide have felt so lifted and IN CONTROL of my life. I had to start with being honest with myself about what mattered. My faith matters, my husband matters and my occupation matters. I have allowed my occupation to take second place to my faith…a goal that I did not think was EVER attainable. I have much more work to do…but am on the right track. Next steps are making my walk with the Lord more fun. Read, pray…talk.

    I live close by and would LOVE to join in for an in-person or online bible study for women. I have lived in Chapel Hill/Durham for 5 years now and have been seeking opportunities for worship but have always been scared to join a bible study. My lack of knowledge is what has always made me think “I’m not holy enough”. That said, count me in! The time has come for me to continue to step outside of my comfort zone and just DO IT.

    Now, I’m off to let my goals motivate (not scare) me, as I transition from “lurker, coast-er…DO-er!”

    Thanks again for your motivation, you are a true joy.

  5. Chandra

    So the big goal this year was to launch C. Jayne Teach and to open the shop in time for Back to School. Done and DONE! I’ve seen an overwhelming amount of love and support and success that was way over what I could have imagined. And even though it’s only been a week since it opened, I’m starting to think about what’s NEXT. I have recently been really into brainstorming ways to give back. I always wanted the shop to have some kind of “good” attached to it. It’s not just about selling great classroom products to teachers, but about paying it forward.
    So, I think I’m going to get on board with the Little Free Library movement (littlefreelibrary.org) and work towards donating a portion of the CJT shop sales to put books in the hands of those who don’t have access to it. Reading is such a big part of my life and of L’s life and I want to pay it forward by raising money towards our own Little Free Library. I’m hoping to have our own up in our neighborhood soon.
    Thanks so much for the encouragement Lara… now and always. Love you! xoxoxo

  6. Sarah

    My goal this year was to pursue my dream of going back to school for my masters in Marital and Family Therapy. I also wanted to step our of my comfort zone of ministry, and support my boyfriend of 5 years as he took a step of faith, graduating engineering school, and pursuing youth ministry instead. God has been so faithful in all these things. He was hired as a Youth Director at our church on 8/1/2013, and I start school 10/2/2013. I also just recently bought a Simplified Planner and my first page is my vision and dream board for 2013. Lara, you and your community of women around you have inspired me to DO THE THINGS I’VE ALWAYS WANTED TO DO, and to simplify my life to loving God, loving His people, and using the gifts He has given me. Thank you for your vulnerability and honesty. I have followed y our blog for the last few years, and it has changed me. You are a vessel for His Kingdom.

  7. pause button » tinavegaphotography.com

    […] been swimming in circles and would like some goal setting/intentional living inspiration, click HERE for a recent blog post by Lara Casey.  Be sure to click on her “Goal Setting + Making Things […]

  8. Mollie Landers

    Thanks for sharing, Lara! One of my biggest goals this year was to get connected in my new community (I moved 500 miles away from home at the beginning of January to start my first “big girl” job out of college) and be brave. It has been AMAZING! I’ve really put myself out there and feel even more connected here than I did in my college town. So far I’ve made great friends at work and church (I officially became a member in the spring) and recently joined The Junior League too.

    What I’ve really been amazed by, though, is my vision statement for 2013. I don’t read it every single day, and some days I need to read it more than others to help me refocus. Every time I read it, though, it rings more true than the last time.

    You and your writing (even on Instagram! 😉 ) are so encouraging and motivating. Thanks again!

  9. Chelsi

    My goal for the year was to do something positive in my hometown. Something to show God’s love in our very non affluent community. As a result of this goal, my friends and I are putting on a superhero 5k next month. 100% of the proceeds will go to help people pay their medical bills. It’s been wonderful to see the community get excited about it!

  10. Emily

    Lara,
    First, I have to share a second where my goals were born…As of your As of the date of your Powersheets webinar I had my powersheets in my posession and had not gotten past the first page or so. I also have been struggling with post partum depression and anxiety as well as major homonal problems since my son was born 18 months ago. (your post on PPD was so freeing to me) and It all finally took its tole on met the week prior to your webinar. Your webinar was JUST what I needed to gather up the gumption I needed to get goin on my life. Skip to the following Saturday… I had a insanely high fever out of nowhere and couldnt leave the couch by the end of the day, stayed sick on the sofa until Tuesday night when I began feeling abdominal pain SO bad it was worse than labor pains with pitocin (does any of this sound familiar to you ? haha. I read your post about going to the hospital THE SAME DAY I went home from the hospital. If that isn’t providence, I don’t know what is. ) I went to the ER where they were convinced it was either a Gall bladder infection or Appendicitis….only to find out it was… nothing? They couldn’t figure it out and released me with strict orders to come back immediately if anything at all happened.

    I broke down in tears after coming home knowing full well that it was God getting my attention because the last 17 months just weren’t enough of a warning for him to slow down and take care of myself and life. ( I never learn the easy way and He knows that). By the way I started and finished grad school in the same 24 month segment that I found out I was pregnant and gave birth to, and began a life with my son (TERRIBLE idea to do grad school and motherhood without relying on God enough by the way) and My body and spirit were plum wore out.

    So… goals…

    Overall and number one- Trust God. He has put this on me SOOO much lately. With a Huge move to Pensacola Coming up with the ?Navy (Navy wife here) and no job options so far for me.

    Physically take care of my self better-
    Quit sugar (terrible for PMDD, Anxiety and Hormonal problems). eat better. Work out daily.

    Spiritually- find the Church in Pensacola we are meant to belong to, the church I’ve been praying about for months. Within that, push myself to be a part of the fellowship (terrifying to a major introvert)

    Family- Foster my relationship with my husband and son by praying for them more, and really really working to serve them and put myself after them. ( I have a mean selfish streak)
    sorry for the novel. thank you for blessing me so much in what ya do. Your blog and encouragement have been such a huge answer to my prayers.

  11. Holly

    I’m working on my photography business/being able to say that out loud un-apologetically! By the end of the year/start of 2014, I’d like to start having some official paying clients! I’m working on getting lots of practice shoots in, networking with other photographers, and investing in education through workshops, Q&A’s and studying other blogs and books! I feel like I’ve made so much progress in general, and particularly this year. I’ve invested so much more into it this year then ever (both financially and with my time), and I’m making real strides to make this happen. It’s TER-I-FY-ING but I’m doing it!

  12. Kendall

    My goal this year was to GET MARRIED and it happens 9 days from today. I’m trying to not let myself stress about the little stuff, and I’m just so excited!

  13. Mari

    It is so inspiring to read your story and know that I too can accomplish the dreams and goals put on my heart. My goals for this year include hearing God’s voice and acting on the words He speaks to me. I often shy away from His will for my life for fear of failure or embarrassment. I know that He is faithful and will bless my marriage, my friendships and my work. Another goal is to start my own business and to work for myself using the gifts and talents He has given me. Lastly, my goal to get back to health through mindful and intentional eating and exercise is really important. I know that having and using your PowerSheets will help me to get these goals in writing, with a plan and purpose and I’m excited for the opportunity to use them.

  14. Nadine

    Goals. Hm. Well, I am not the girl who sets goals at the beginning of each year. I just make them as necessary. Recently, I reflected that of the fruit of the spirit, the one k am consistently failing at is self control. Flash forward a few weeks, after eating brekfast at home each morning, making coffee at home, and packing a healthy lunch, I’ve lost over 5 pounds and saved a lot of money. I’m excited to see what happens as I keep working at having better self control.

  15. emma scott

    My goal this year was in the form of a word :PUSH!

    I’ve pushed a lot but this month I’m taking a step and reassessing WHERE to PUSH. And most importantly, WHAT DIRECTION. I’m struggling to understand which way this is and hoping God can help show me the way…(soon?)! Patience…

  16. sarah

    These check-ins are oh so good for me! I need to be held accountable, which actually makes me think I should find someone else to help me stay accountable…

    I have really been focusing on simplifying, clearing out, etc. i’m not sure what direction I’m supposed to be heading in with respect to so many ideas & goals swirling around, so I think the de-cluttering is helping me realize what matters and helps make room for what matters. Having less “stuff” to deal with has been great.

    question– so many of your goals involve your family and serving them and building relationships, etc. Do you have any ideas/comments/prayers for what single women can focus on during this time in our lives. Seeking God and his will should always be number 1, but I struggle to find ways to serve those around me, to grow in relationships when I don’t have that nuclear family of a husband/kids to do so with. Thanks in advance!

    • Monica T Smith

      Sarah;
      May I encourage you as a single woman to seek God for what He would have you do. Sit at His feet and let Him whisper into your heart what He longs for you to do and be. I promise you, He will let you know and will guide you into a place of fulfillment and joy.
      Be blessed,
      Monica

  17. Linds

    I seem to be struggling lately. Earlier this year I was on a roll. My first business was thriving and finally reached a place where I could take a leap of faith in expanding that business. It took quite a bit of an investment. I’m 6 months in and have had nothing but road blocks hit me. I’m beginning to think this wasn’t a part of God’s plan but as scared as I am to move forward and possibly fail, I’m even more afraid of giving up.

    On top of all that my husband is in medical school and I’m our only income. It’s so stressful to have the weight of a whole household on your shoulders.

    Wow I usually write positive, uplifting comments (whether I’m feeling that way or not) but it feels good to get this off my chest!

  18. Jacquelyn S.

    One of my goals for this year was to launch my first business, The Ampersand Studios. I am thrilled to say, that after years dreaming and months of planning, I’ve finally started the process. If all goes according to plan, my website will be up and running this fall! I finally dug into my Powersheets and although it was a struggle at first, I managed to name a few big goals and work on my August tending list. Thank you for always being an inspiration. I can’t wait to report back with more progress soon!

  19. Jessa R.

    Lara- you are such an inspiration. Whenever I catch myself overwhelmed by the multitude of tasks before me, I simply remind myself “to make it happen.” Myacademic goal is to write a dissertation proposal and successfully defend it. My family goal is to do everything that I can to make Dr. Reed’s Run (our charity 5k to honor my father’s memory that benefits the Brain Aneurysm Foundation). I struggle with reaching out and I worry that no one will show up. I need to overcome that anxiety. My personal goal is to stick to my 10k training schedule – race is September 29. You have motivated me to sit down this weekend and really plan out some action steps. thank you thank you, thank you.

  20. Kate

    My dream was to be a writer. Thanks to the process of turning that dream into a goal I am now actually writing. I’ve committed to daily journaling and am completing a series of writing exercises to sharpen my skills. I’ve also submitted two posts for publication with blogs that I’m a follower of. My next step is to have a manuscript draft prepared by November 1. The outline and references are completed, I now have to supply the content. I found that in order to achieve my dream of being a writer, I had to actually write. Thanks for the nude.

  21. Kate

    Ok, that should say nudge not nude. Epically embarrassing moment – check!

    • Lara

      Hi, friend!!! I am just reading your text and saw this. I have made way worse typos – like the time I said “Big JUGS” instead of Big Hugs! : ) HA! Love you!

  22. Kristen Ostow

    THANK YOU SO MUCH for this post. This is exactly what I needed to hear and read today!! I am going to print this entire post out and re-read it again and again until I have followed every bit of your advice {or at least tried my best too!} I plan on clicking on the links you have shared, checking out your powersheets, and the book 7. I know I am meant to do something great – I am just not exactly and totally sure of where I am headed {although I have given it to GOD and trust 100% that HE knows} I am currently a manager for a mortgage company, a matron of honor, the president of my high school reunion committee, and a stylist for a jewelry company in its ground breaking phase. My goal is simple at this moment – make a concrete goal of where all of this action is taking me and where I want to be a year from now. Your post today is really going to help me achieve my goal in getting an action plan! Thank you Lara! Your passionate motivation and drive is so inspirational!! All my love, Kristen Ostow

  23. Melissa

    I have spent the last year, yes a YEAR, clearing the clutter. Clearing the clutter has meant much more than just getting rid of physical stuff. I have had many loose ends that have needed to be tied up because of a very chaotic year before this most recent year. I’m still working on clearing the clutter, but I am almost there!

    I’m even more motivated to get life in order because I’m expecting a baby girl in December. I have a little boy, and now he’ll have a sister! Honestly, finding out I’m having a girl has been a challenge to get used to, just because I was so excited that my boy would maybe have a brother. But now I’m so thankful for God’s beautiful blessing He’s bringing my way, and I’m looking forward to being caught up with life and welcoming her into the world.

  24. Wanda

    Wow, you have made me cry. None stopping…with your post. I can relate to your personality. I need to stay focus and be hold accountable, because I can get distracted easily. My girls are the same way too. I have many goals, that needs to be put down on paper, for sure. First of all, I do need to spend more time reading, studying the bible so that I can share it more effectively. The way God wants me to. Church’s family tease me to preach, they say that when I start talking on our home group, they feel motivated to take notes. They are just hilarious. Second, I wish to be able to help in our house finances. After being diagnosed with cancer several years ago, I quit my job to care for my daughter, now we have two girls. But, I feel like I can do more, be creative and teach my girls by example that they can accomplish anything they dream about and be inspired by their mom. I also dream on inspiring other women with my testimony and help them on their journey. That would be awesome. One of my dreams is to study more about my creative passion, that includes and expense that can be coveted only if its God’s plans for me. I pray that the handbags I’ve already in shelf sell and for God to inspire me to create even more designs that will have many more clients not just wanting more, but be inspired and motivated enough for them to try and make happen that thing that their are passionate about. I think that this point will help my husband feel less heavy, because this will help with the expenses we already have. Even though he doesn’t say it, but I know it will be great for us as a couple if I take some of that weight off his shoulders. I also wish to learn how to organize myself better in order to be able to spend quality time with my girls & have date nights with my husband. Having a girl enter Middle school this year and another in Elementary is a gift and a challenge. Something I’m not willing to lose sight of. They are my inspiration and who keeps me from getting up every morning. The glory to God always. I wish I win the giveaway of the Power Sheets and organize my head, heart, house, marriage, family, new business and that special time with my father. My final goal is to be able to pass on to others everything I learn along the way and see others blossom in their creative journeys. God is good! I’m glad I found you and that I have been able to follow you on Instagram and your blog. Love learning and you do just that, teach me everytime I read a post. Thank you for being a blessing. I’ll be praying for you, your house and the treasures of your heart. For everything to be in order in Jesus name.

  25. Making Things Happen // August

    […] the beginning of 2013, she started this Making Things Happen series on her blog and created the PowerSheets that will help you work through the series. Instead of […]

  26. Kara Anne

    I admit I sort of ‘forgot’ about my goals check-in and am SO GLAD that you posted this to keep me accountable and in check!

    Unknowingly, I have progressed (not as much as I want to, but reminding myself constantly: progress, not perfection) in knowing God and trusting in Him this year. Reading the Bible + devotionals everyday have been a great way, but since I started serving in the Children’s Ministry in May, I have really learned to think less of how others think of me (especially during serving time) and just let myself GO SERVE HIM and interact with the children.

    Being with children is an amazing feeling – I am able to let go of my inhibitions and sing and dance and talk about silly things with them. I really pray that through this way, I can shepherd the children to know God’s loving ways more and walk in His ways and trust Him.

    I have launched my biz Petite Paper and my new blog By Kara Anne and am preparing for a third site, The Petite Co.. I feel that I have much more CLARITY and learned so much during this time to SELL myself — I used to be really scared of this, and of course, no progress in biz, duh). But still, I am a long way away from “success” and to be at a comfortable salary for my life but hey, I am still very happy where I am.

    I am learning to trust God so much more in all my decisions and actions and words and my LIFE in general. I am again putting my biz in His hands (everyday, I pray this!) and let His plans take over.

    Lastly, I added 2 more goals: to COMPLAIN LESS so I can focus on what matters most + to be more active on GraceHope.com and stand in prayer + agreement with the ones that need it.

    Thank you Lara, I’ve had more personal + spiritual growth in 3/4 of a year than my entire LIFE because of this MTH series. I am forever grateful.

    Blessings + I am so happy for all your achievements. I know your BOOK is on the TOP of my list come 2015. 🙂

  27. Annie {little&ever}

    Hello again Lara,

    Congratulations on your goal progress thus far. I really like the idea of the webinar you and Emily Ley are planning on how to organise your time.

    “When I have a plan and a goal, it means I have to commit to something and there is a chance I could fail, so my natural tendency has been to shy away from goals.” – Yes, this is 110% ME! You are certainly not alone Lara. The very big part of me that is a perfectionist hates failure.

    Thank you for the call to check in on the goals once again. And believe it or not, I am still working through writing and posting about all of the goal setting steps – just have Name Your Fear, Create Boundaries and Encourage Others to go. Goal is to have them thought about and worked through by December 31. I honestly cannot say how helpful all of this food-for-thought has been.

    I feel like I’m making real progress with my goals. This year I’m focussing on DOING. ‘Cos funny thing, you can talk and talk and talk, but if you consciously knuckle down and get stuff done… it gets done! Better late and never to learn this!

    I’m focussing on nurturing the right friendships. I’ve actively invited many friends over for tea and biscuit catch ups. Last night, I even had friends over for a proper home cooked, multiple course, sit down dinner (yes, complete with flowers and candles).

    I can now hold Facebook at an arm’s length, my mortgage repayments are above target, I’ve attended two course days for work, and I’m trying to focus on what I can do and change (but while being ok with the fact that I alone don’t have to solve the world’s diabetes problem. There are only so many hours in the day and I cannot work/worry 24/7).

    Working on resting better. Working on de-cyber-ing. Still punching away (literally!) at boot camp.

    All in all, I’m feeling truer to myself with each day that passes. Thank you. Annie x

  28. Janelle

    For the past several years, I’ve told anyone (and everyone) that my dream was to start a creative business, and eventually felt a strong pull toward wedding design and styling. I finally made the decision last year to actually do something about it and launched my business at the end of the year – and quit my job to do it. This year has been all about trusting myself, having confidence, and going with my gut. It’s been a hard several months with plenty of ups and downs, but I finally feel like I’m starting to see some progress. I keep having this feeling in my heart, though, that I’m meant to be doing something MORE. That there’s a bigger, better way that I can do what my heart is calling me to do and have an impact on people and makes THEIR lives better. I’m just not sure what that is. I’m struggling with figuring out where I fit it in this world, which is a difficult thing to admit.

    I’m not really one to comment (like, ever!!), but today I felt called to connect here. I’m not sure why, but I’m learning to just let go and follow those feelings, even when I’m not quite sure where they will lead me. I’ve read your posts on goals a few different times, but have never taken the time to actually work through them. Today is the day! Thank you for being such an inspiration, Lara. You a truly a joy, and even though we don’t know each other, I feel blessed to have you in my life – whether you know it or not, you’re pushing me to keep going and make life happen.

  29. Kendra

    My goal this year to lose weight!

  30. Jaqueline Faria

    Lara you are such an inspiring person! Thank you for sharing so much of yourself with us! I love reading how God has changed your life and it’s inspired me to renew my relationship with God and he has done so much for me since the start of the year and since I actively began persuing his love. I’m probably sharing a little too much but here goes.

    One my goals was to know God more to begin rebuilding a relationship with him. To learn to trust him more. I’m happy to say this Goal is moving foward. I started reading the bible something I have never done even when I went to church every sunday. I start my day with doing devotional and it’s not much but it defenitly has been the step in the right direction. I’ve already experinced my opportunitys to place my trust back in his hand, situations that would have had me walking away before but he’s been there holding my hand and it’s been an incredible change.

    Another goal at the start of the year was to save more so my husband and I could buy a house… we managed to buy one before April. It was an incredibly blessing, and my husband and I had to do alot of praying throughout the process. But we are so greatful for the little home. It’s sbsolutly perfect for us. This house was suppose to be a nightmare to get a hold of … an owner who would set on his price and wouldn’t budge, even if it didn’t meet the appraisal and the fact the house had been 5 years on the market. We both walked in and fell in love with it immeditly that’s when we knew that this was the right house. And because of God it all went smoothly. We closed escrow in 26 days! CRAZY.

    Something that I wrote not having worked for me in 2012 was working at a job I hated. But I wasn’t ready and didn’t have the courage to walk away. As soon as we bought a house and a day be fore we were about to take a BIG europe trip something we’d been planning over a year. I lost my job ( i was absolutly devistated worry and stressed… we couldn’t cancel our trip we’d losse to much money and we just had bought a house) This was the turning point for me, where I didn’t know where to turn and I just turn and I just had to give it all to God becuase I couldn’t deal with it all. God took care of us! Stepping in at my most desperate time of need and providing me with unemployment after 2 months of fighting with my company because I believed I was wrongfully terminated. God stepped in gave me the strength to fight for it and with his blessing and grace I won. But through this struggle he opened a magnificiant door for me. The opportunity to be at home and a chance to make my wedding photography dreams come true. My Goal was to work harder on my dream so I could continue to financially assit my husband while still doing something I love. I’m now getting that opportunity. To work hard in making my dream come ture. I believe this was his plan completely. My husband pointed out that I hated my job and I would have never walked away. That realization was as if God had steped in and said it’s time. He even provided me with an amazing mentor who has taken my hand and is walking me thorough each step of the way. 🙂

    Another goal was to budget mine and my husbands money more to learn to live simply and joyfully learn to live with less. so that we can focus on expanding our family. While were not ready for the expanding our family we are definitly learning to live more simply to live with less. Alot of budgetting has happened since I lost my job and while we have less money and I can’t just go out and shop like I use to I can honestly say I’m happier. I’m learning to cook and we’ve been eating at home 9/10 times a week… this is a big change (also was one of my goals) It’s been incredible how one small change has caused most of my goals come true.

    Thank you ! Jaqueline

    • Kara Anne

      Hey Jacqueline,

      I just read your goals I just repeatedly said Amen amen and am so touched by the progress! God is so good in your life!

      I can’t believe that He planned it all for you, and isn’t it just AMAZING that you now get to do your wedding photography biz (AMAZING!!!!) and your hubby is so supportive. Wow. All I could say was wow. God’s perfect timing. His perfect plan. He knows what’s in your heart and He planned it out beautifully for you.

      Congratulations on your new path, new house and your new life… Amen, amen, amen…

  31. Karen O

    September is the new January….let’s get going on goals!

  32. Mackenzie

    Your honesty and transparency. Wow. Lara, I’m so grateful for you. Today I reviewed my goals that I started to set at the beginning of July and realized that they were really good, true and honest goals! I’m so grateful! I cannot wait to use my tending sheets to make these goals possible on a daily basis. I finally get “nothing measured, nothing managed.”

    Lord, I pray you will bless Lara in her goals. I pray that she will continue to be guided by you and encourage others through every step. May you be close to her and may she feel your presence, Lord. May the road to Your life and light be more blessed along the way than we ever could have imagined. Amen.

  33. Hannah

    Hi Lara, I’ve been reading this blog since March this year and it’s been providing me with hope , strength, inspiration, motivation and so much more ever since. And I personally want to thank you for re-introducing me back into religion again, after not visiting church since I was a child. I have started visiting near enough every week since the end of April and even managed to get my boyfriend to come along, which is amazing!:).

    Your writing has provided me with the faith I need to see the positive in life and look forward to the future, and trust it will be full of goodness. I’m only 19 and my partner of 4 years was diagnosed with cancer at the start of the year, we are both so young and still working through chemotherapy.

    I’m a student and I have lots of plans for the future, I have been trying to get my life back on track and also plan to start my own business as soon as possible and start giving back to the cancer unit that has supported my boyfriend and I so much, I will be eternally grateful for everything they have done for us. and I really would be so grateful for a the gift of powersheets. My life still feels bit jumbly and blah and I would love to spend the time going through the exercises and setting my goals. I have already been going through the exercise for making things happen in 2013 and I really just can’t wait to start living and working on my own path.

    I wish you all the best and thank you for all your beautiful words. Thank you.

    P.S. Any words of wisdom you can give me about setting up an online business would also be truly grateful. You and are your business are such an inspiration to me.

  34. Allison

    This seems to be the year for blogging about goals! Which is great 🙂 I’m planning to have my website finished, blog up and running, and get all my shoulder & back kinks worked out 😀
    Thanks for the giveaway! Organizing sheets are super helpful!

  35. Amy C.

    Lara, I found your blog through several other bloggers who were linking to your beautiful prints. I was so happy to find your motivational advice , just at the moment I needed it! I’ve had a lot of dreams floating around in my head but haven’t taken the time to really think things through and come up with a plan of action. I’m going through the steps you’ve outlined now, and am so excited to see how things take shape!

  36. Brit

    Love this: “Face the reality of where you are — with a heaping dose of grace for yourself — and ask God what you need to do next. ” So needed to read that.

    It’s easy to have dreams, but turning them into goals with specific action steps is so much harder to get to with the clutter of “to dos” each day. And then you end up feeling like you are getting nowhere!

    This post is really encouraging me to get back in the habit of writing down big goals in order to measure success. Thank you for sharing your wisdom!

  37. Jessica

    My goals this year were quite varied, but they were all centered on taking ACTION when it comes to things that fire me up, rather than just thinking and wishing. I have made a lot of progress in just WRITING instead of simply thinking because things have to be perfect. I’m aiming to ACT and practice things and get better at them over time. The Lord has showed me so much regarding my desire for perfection and the need to take control. He’s showed me that I don’t have to be everything right now. He is working through me now, and He is not working through my strength, but through my weakness to show the perfection of His power.

  38. Lydia

    One of my goals this year was to totally redo my branding for my photography business. Last year I finally found the perfect designer, and this year has been all about looking inside myself to see who I really am and what my business is all about. It has been hard work! But I’m plugging on, and will hopefully be finished with the new logo this month and on to the next part of the project!

  39. Shannon

    I had become so distracted by other things that I wasn’t taking care of myself physically, spiritually, or mentally. So my biggest goal this year was to take care of myself again. I wanted to get back in to shape (done! and still going!), feel confident in my body again (done!), and spend more time in His presence and continue to grow closer to Him (always growing and always learning more and more). The other major goal for myself was to pursue what I truly want to be doing in life as far as my career goes. I don’t want to dwell on the fact that I didn’t pursue it as hard as I should have a few years ago, but I’ve come a long way in just the past few months, and I’m incredibly excited about what’s to come. I’ve never really considered goal setting in order to make things happen, so I am grateful for your blog (new reader) and wisdom. Thank you for being so raw and open and willing to share!

  40. Mariya

    Hey Lara.
    Thank you so much for this post! Exactly what I needed to hear today. This fall I am starting my 2 year program in ophthalmology. and i have been very nervous about it, especially after receiving some news today. But, just today I have been reminding myself to trust God completely because he will get me through this new season in life. Help me through all kinds of circumstances, trials, and challenges. I want to learn to trust Him more, to pray to him more, to know that without Him I am nothing. I cant do anything on my own strength. Please pray for me if you have the chance! God bless you abundantly 🙂

  41. Teressa Mackey

    One of my biggest goals has been to have enough courage to go to a blogging conference. The courage to say, “I’m worth it” , The courage to say, “It’s ok to spend money on a dream”. I’m officially going to influence.. One step closer to the overall goal of influencing the lives of many through my little space on the web.

  42. Katie

    Hi Lara,

    First off, I just spent two hours reading your blog and your stories. Thanks for your transparency and honesty. It was very refreshing, especially for someone like me who often feels like all of the woman in my life have it together except for me.

    As a teacher on the verge of a new school year, I’m ready to develop new habits that I can incorporate into my life now that work is kicking back up. This summer has been a tough one as I have been confronted with the overwhelming sin in my life and the bad habits that stem from it. The greatest sin in my life is not trusting the Lord’s sovereign plan for my life, which causes me to want to take control. As my husband and I face a mountain of questions about our future (where will we go once he graduates from his MBA program? what is the next step in my career? are we ready to start a family?), I know that I need to trust in Him but also “be all here,” in the words of Jim Elliott. I want to balance planning for the future with living in the moment, so that I can be a better wife, daughter, sister, friend, teacher, and believer. Thanks again for opening up your life to me!

  43. monique

    I was so blessed working through yoyr goal setting steps to discover that what I really crave in life is to be a light to others as I follow the biblical teachings of Christ and follow the path He has for me . Before working the steps it was a jumbled mess of wanting to be a better person, doing service “some day”, and at some point let go of any negativity… Everything is so much clearer now . Also on my goal list are my aspirations regarding my parenting, business, finacial freedom, and art. Now just to break it all down into manageable steps and make MORE things happen.

  44. Shay Hampton

    I am proud to say that I have made a lot progress this year after writing my 2013 Success Plan. I recently did a soft launch of my business/brand and have the goal to do a full launch this Fall!!!

  45. Katie

    As a teacher, I love August/September because it marks the start of a new year for me. Now that my summer is over, I am more aware of things that I want to change and how desperately I need the Lord’s help to do so. My biggest goal for this next year is to really work on my relationship with God and see how it impacts the work I’d like Him to do in me. I want to be in the Word daily, with a focus on studying and learning instead of just reading. I also want to understands what it looks like for me to be a daughter of the King – to have the security of Him in who I am. My third (but decidedly not final) goal is to work on better loving my husband in tangible and intangible ways – through praying for him and with him, being less selfish with my time, and encourage him to be the spiritual leader of our relationship.

    Thanks for your openness and honesty, Lara! Your story is incredible and a wonderful (and much needed) reminder of the Lord’s providence and faithfulness!

  46. Beverly

    Lara, thanks for sharing the bit on being a coaster versus doer. I didn’t even realize I was coasting until I read your post. I can be so content getting lost in my thoughts and enjoying my solitude, BUT when I do that too much nothing gets done! (This reminded me of Proverbs 25 – too much honey will make one sick & seeking one’s own glory leads to disappointment – two great ‘honey lessons’ in that Proverb.)
    As a fellow INFP, I too find that when I choose the unnatural – like extroversion and planning – life feels more balanced and I feel that my heart comes more alive and full. Such wonderful God-filled events!
    Thanks for speaking truth into my heart. Love the mantra! I hope you have a blessed day.

  47. Siri

    My goal…ummmm. Set some goals! I have never been much for pushing myself but have been blessed with tremendous success and am ready to move forward with intention. It is time to do! That goal counts, right? 🙂

  48. Sarah

    I am learning to do better about taking small steps in the right direction. When I can’t spend an hour in the Word spend a few minutes, when I can’t make a gourmet dinner for my family ask the Lord for help and make the best I can with what we have. I love being reminded of the joy of walking with the Lord through the day and to keep moving forward instead of sitting down and giving up.

    This week I am working on going to bed earlier and getting up earlier too. I want to spend some time in the Word and exercise before my sweet little men get up. I want to be ready to love on them when they wake up instead of frustrated because they woke me up and overwhelmed by the idea of trying to get everything done with them underfoot.

    Love your blog, thanks for inspiring me to live intentionally!

  49. Sarah

    I just stumbled upon your website while searching for info on goal setting. I’m usually pretty organized and like to follow a schedule, but I often feel misguided because I don’t have clear cut goals and action steps to accomplish what is in my heart. I go around and around in circles, never taking the time to search my soul and put down onto paper what is really important to me. I also struggle with taking the time to talk to God about what His goals are for me. I talk to Him about other things, but this core area is one I often ignore. I’m ready to make a change, and would love to win a set of PowerSheets to get me started!

  50. Laura

    I just found your website through a friend’s instagram post. In just reading it I’ve felt encouraged and inspired. I’m not sure I could concretely put goals into words, but this makes me want to!

  51. Brittany

    Love stopping by here and reading your inspiring words 🙂

    I’m working my way through the Old Testament and I’m in 1 Kings. So good to read and understand how everything connects and I’m enjoying it too!

    I finally published the eBook I’ve only been dreaming about for over a year and it feels so good! Work in general is good and I feel like I’m finally in a rhythm of work/blogging/life and it feels good.

    xo

  52. Natasha

    Hi Lara! Thank you for sharing your goal updates and your heart. *hugs*

    I’ve made progress on my goal to make working out more consistent and challenging so that I live a healthy life and have the energy to serve and love others with joy. Something that I’ve found *incredibly* helpful was taping a calendar to my closet door and checking the days that I work out. This way I can actually *see* how much progress I’m making and that has been encouraging.

    I think that I need to sit down and rewrite a few of my goals or even nix a few. Now that I’ve been living and making progress I have more clarity and want to have that reflected in written form. I’m blocking off an hour this evening to start working on that. Progress not perfection.

    P.s. I would LOVE to participate in a bible study with you!!!

  53. Making Things Happen | Lovely Thoughts

    […] beautiful and inspiring people I know. A big part of her ministry is this project called, “Making Things Happen” about goal setting and making your dreams come true. I’ve tried to get started on completing […]

  54. Ashley Dale

    Are You still starting the bible study in Jan? I would love to stream! I also live in Raleigh so I could make it to a couple when I get off early enough.

  55. Making Things Happen // August

    […] the beginning of 2013, she started this Making Things Happen series on her blog and created the PowerSheets that will help you work through the series. Instead of […]