Make It Happen is the story of how I surrendered my fear, took the leap, and got a life. In my case, a perfectly imperfect, fulfilling life as a mama, a working woman, and a grateful wife. This is the story of how I chose to make "it"a greater purpose than minehappen, and how you can too.
Make It Happen is for
- women who find themselves worried, anxious, and completely overwhelmed by the constant chase for perfection
- those seeking the courage to jump into a new venture
- working women who are struggling to "do it all"
- weary wives and moms looking for relief from burning the candle at both ends
- anyone who dreams of a life lived not by accident, but on purpose
You know all those things you've always wanted to do?
You should go do them.
|Publisher:||Nelson, Thomas, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.70(d)|
About the Author
Lara Casey is a mom to three (one through the gift of adoption), a grateful wife, and a believer in the impossible. She created the PowerSheets grace-filled goal setting planner and the Write the Word journals, and she founded Southern Weddings Magazine a decade ago. Lara is also the author of Make It Happen: Surrender Your Fear. Take the Leap. Live On Purpose. She lives in Chapel Hill, NC, and loves getting her hands dirty in the garden.
Read an Excerpt
Make it Happen
Surrender Your Fear Take the Leap Live on Purpose
By Lara Casey
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2014 Lara Casey
All rights reserved.
STOP CHASING PERFECT
Choose PURPOSE over PERFECT.
When asked what they are proudest of in life, many people describe honors or awards. My Grandpa Cecil would simply pull out a picture of his wife. They met in rural Alabama. Celeste Virginia—a fiery redhead—was the youngest daughter in a large Southern family of eleven, but she was ahead of her time; she earned a living as a traveling theater director. Cecil, one of eight children himself, signed up to be an extra in one of her plays with his brothers. It was love at first sight. But Celeste had to travel with the show, and Cecil was drafted into the army. They wrote epic love letters for two years before finally tying the knot in a tiny ceremony at her family home. Grandpa loved three things most, in this order: the Bible, his bride, and his vegetable garden. Well, and cheating at checkers, but that's another story.
Grandpa tended to his sweet tomato plants just as he tended to Grandma Celeste—with love. He loved his Early Girls so much that when my mom was in college, he would carefully wrap a handpicked selection in a newspaper-padded box and mail it to her to enjoy.
I have a vivid memory of being in the community garden with him as he watered his crops in his later years. Grandpa would sink his hands into damp, mineral-drenched soil and tell me what heaven was going to be like. Grandpa's life was like a beautiful creek, flowing with fresh water and trickling with a soothing sound that made everything all right. My life, on the other hand, was more like an avalanche: frozen water crashing down a mountain at breakneck speed.
I wanted the glamorous life I saw in movies: travel, adventure, and sweeping love. My focus in high school was theater, boys, and making my parents proud.
I loved the smell of sawdust from building sets, and most of all I loved the applause. When we saw the audience rise for a standing ovation, it felt like we were a part of something bigger. We were making people feel something. I relished the stage for its sense of wonder. Even at that young age, I knew art was important. Thanks to my parents, I knew my creative gifts mattered. So I lived and breathed painting, design, music, and theater.
During a high school English class, my proud mama swept into the classroom holding a Carnegie Mellon T-shirt and my acceptance letter. I was one of sixteen students chosen that year for their music theater program. I might have burst out in song.
At our convocation ceremony, we were told to look to our left and to our right: "One of you won't be standing here at graduation. If you can get through four years at CMU, you will be able to get through anything." I laughed naively and dove in to fifty hours a week of dance, acting, voice, movement, speech, and music.
Five days a week, for hours, I scrutinized myself in the mirror as I would plié and relevé my heart out. I was terrible at ballet. Turns out, I was terrible at a lot of things. Suddenly I wasn't the best anymore. I was used to my parents telling me everything I did was great. I was used to getting every role I wanted in high school and being met with standing ovations. Then I got to college, and people started saying, "Work harder."
I refused to settle for mediocrity, so I tried to be the best in every area: performance, popularity, and physical appearance. I set my standards high and took action.
In my sophomore year I started exercising more. I spent extra time in the dance studio and rehearsal rooms. I did everything I could to keep up with the skinny, talented freshmen. I chased perfection for mile after mile on the treadmill, reading "expert" advice in magazines on how to "get slim by Sunday" and how to "be the life of every party." I looked to others to tell me whether I measured up. I hid my wild, curly hair and covered my freckles. I feared that if I let my true self show, I wouldn't be enough. I couldn't let my parents or high school friends think I was anything less than the star they expected me to be when I went away to college. I had to be the best at any cost.
My voice teacher pulled me into her office one afternoon, concerned about my sudden weight loss. "I'm fine," I assured her with a forced smile. "I'm just working out a lot for dance class right now. Trying to make it happen!" But I wasn't okay. I had an eating disorder. I couldn't get the image of the perfect girl I thought I was supposed to be to match who I actually was.
On the treadmill one day I suddenly felt my heart pounding erratically. The pit in my stomach from not eating and the stares from others in the gym came to a head in an anxiety attack. I sensed God saying to me, Lara, you are going to die from this if you don't get off now.
God wasn't telling me just to get off the treadmill; He was telling me to stop "chasing perfect"—or at least my idea of it—or die. I got off, went to the locker room, and stepped on the scale. At 5'9", I had shriveled to a mere 116 pounds.
I could barely get the words out when I called my mom. I was afraid to disappoint her, but I kept hearing the echo of God's gentle voice. I needed help.
The hardest part of breaking the chains of fear, control, and the chase for perfect is seeing that you need help. The second, equally hard, step is asking for it. Until that night I hadn't let anyone help me because I was in control. That day in the gym, my irregular heartbeat revealed the truth: I was chasing the uncatchable. My mom flew to Pittsburgh to get me, and college was put on hold. I was ashamed that I couldn't control my life and embarrassed to leave school, but the alternative was clear, and it was much worse than a bruised ego.
CRUSH THE "SHOULDS"
Perhaps you are thinking that what you are chasing isn't that bad. You don't have an eating disorder or any other major problem. And maybe you don't want to be perfect; you just want to live a good life and do your best. Still, you struggle at times, feeling like you are not enough. My chase for perfect may seem like the extreme, but the feeling of not measuring up is something shared by many of us—dare I say all of us?
I was doing what I thought I was supposed to do to be successful. In the race toward measuring up, we often don't realize we're being fueled by something harmful.
Give this question a chance, because it might ignite something you never expected: What are you really chasing?
Our chase for success so easily disguises itself as a "should"—because everyone around us is doing it. You should be working hard at the expense of time with your family if you want to be successful. You should be staying up late to get ahead if you want to make it. You should climb the success ladder now so you can live a joyful life when you retire.
You should, or you won't be enough.
Here's a wild question: What would happen if you threw out the "shoulds"? Who says you have to live by those rules? What if ending the chase and living on purpose means intentionally leaning in to what might feel imperfect? Maybe your laundry won't get done, or you will miss out on an opportunity for work. But your kids will be loved on, or you will have time for an undistracted dinner with your husband or a friend. Maybe you'll go to the park on your lunch break to get some fresh air instead of scarfing down a protein bar at your desk. Maybe you'll slow down enough to be able to listen to someone who really needs it.
Maybe a purposeful life means you'll have fewer followers on social media because you're not glued to your phone as much anymore. Maybe you'll get out in your garden, or paint, or have a long coffee date with someone and build a lasting connection. Maybe you'll call your grandma to tell her you love her and make her day. Maybe a purposeful life means you will make less money, but you'll find you have all you need.
But there are bills to pay.
But I have responsibilities.
But it's complicated.
Many of us fear that if we slow down even the tiniest bit, we will no longer be productive. We fear our lives will be meaningless if we aren't constantly striving for something bigger and better. Yet when we finally stop chasing those impossible standards and surrender our fears, we become truly productive in what matters. We experience genuine fulfillment: an imperfect yet intentional life, driven by a clear core purpose.
And you know what else? When we share our struggles on this journey to contentment, we ignite purposeful action in others as well. It creates a beautiful domino effect. People look at our lives and think, She is imperfect and content, so maybe I could be too.
So how do you get there?
Begin anywhere. Begin right where you are.
HOW ARE YOU?
You know that feeling you get when a good friend asks, "How are you?" You instantly tense up, not wanting to reveal the stuff that is weighing you down. You think, I can't tell her. It's too much. I won't be able to stop if I start. I don't want to burden her. She'll think I'm crazy. I can't!
"I'm fine," you quip.
Your friend asks again, "No, really ... how are you?" The tone of her voice somehow makes you relax, and you just know: she wants the real answer, not the socially acceptable short version. Like honey to your soul, this genuine question makes you take in a deep, knowing breath. With your exhale, you pour out your heart. The emotion in your voice surprises you—you didn't realize you were carrying such a burden. Moments later, as if you've exhaled bricks, you feel a weight lifted off of your shoulders.
When people used to ask me how I was doing, I would slap on a smile and give them a resounding, "Great!" But my closed body language and the tone in my voice told them otherwise.
What happens when you answer someone truthfully? You give the other person an unspoken invitation to do the same. Perfect says, "I'm fine," and the conversation dwindles. Perfect keeps it all bottled inside, snuffing out a possible life-changing connection between two souls. Perfect is boring. When a friend answers me honestly, I feel invited to let go and do the same, and life starts to happen. A connection is formed. Trust is built. Our lives are shared.
How about I go first?
I am feeling nervous right now. I am not a trained writer, nor do I work in professional ministry. But I want to help people know the truth because every day—in my work as a magazine publisher, during speaking engagements, at the grocery store and the airport—I meet countless women who feel held back from really living. Their fire has been put out, and we need their fire.
Most days I feel like I'm still twelve and wonder why God has me totally outside of my comfort zone: running a business, being a mom, writing these words to you, and doing many things I never thought I would do. I feel ordinary. I feel unprepared and in way over my head about a dozen times an hour. And that's the thing: I am unprepared and in over my head. But God does extraordinary things with our broken pieces when we give them to Him. He is real and good. And I know that God has given me a story to tell you. "You" meaning you. Not the collective "you" who may pick up this book, but you—the individual, courageous, beautiful person who is reading this right this second. The you who has a story and hidden passions and a deep desire for change ... and there, I just took a big deep breath.
Now it's your turn. How are you? Why not stop for a minute and really think about it?
Life moves fast. So fast sometimes that we don't slow down enough to take stock of how we are doing. We think, It doesn't matter how I feel right now. I must keep striving toward success! I'll feel things some other day. Left with what seems like no choice but to press on, we do. Pushing our feelings aside, we grasp at the nearest sources of comfort or inspiration—magazines, TV, the Internet—filling our minds and hearts with the world's definition of what we should be, do, and think.
Over time the impossible standards we set for ourselves become the measuring stick for our worth. We start to believe that if we don't measure up, we aren't enough. We begin to feel worthless.
I did. Lost in the throes of busy, fueled by quick fixes that didn't fix anything at all, I believed the lies about who I was and wasn't supposed to be. I chased the standard of perfect.
Chasing perfect is comparing our worth with someone else's.
Chasing perfect makes us believe we are bad moms or bad wives or bad friends.
Chasing perfect makes us believe we are average and insignificant.
Chasing perfect makes us believe we will never be content.
Chasing perfect makes us believe we don't have enough friends, enough fun, or enough adventures.
Chasing perfect makes us believe we will never be successful.
Chasing perfect makes us do unreasonable things, like starve ourselves and buy things we can't afford, to measure up to our perceptions of others.
The next time we feel down, we race back to the very things that caused this emptiness in the first place. We buy, look, covet, and idolize again, and perhaps more than before. Our "inspiration" ends up intensifying the comparison and feelings of inadequacy that we were trying to escape. I'm speaking from my own heart, having fallen into these painful traps time and again.
The cycle continues until one day we find ourselves overwhelmed and overworked-or on a treadmill-thinking, There must be a better way to live.
There is a better way.
I thought my eating disorder would define me for the rest of my life. I feared my anxiety would hold me back from doing the things I was created to do. I feared I would always be stuck.
Are you there right now too? Do you fear that whatever it is holding you back—anxiety, fear, control, distrust, lack, or challenging circumstances—will always be there?
Be still, friend. Know that God's desire for you is a life of peace. He wants to free you from the chase. Wherever you are is exactly where you are supposed to be to ignite intentional change.
The lies of perfection and shoulds tell us we aren't enough, but the truth paves a path for us to an abundant life of joy where we are more than enough. As my friend Emily Ley once told me, "I will hold myself to a standard of grace, not perfection."
Flaws, mistakes, and all—regardless of what you have done or where you have been—you matter. You were created for a purpose, and it's time to make it happen.
Make it happen means choosing PURPOSE over PERFECT
* Write the following statement on a sticky note, and place it on your desk, refrigerator, or bathroom mirror:
I was created for a purpose, and it's time to make it happen!
* Go to www.LaraCasey.com/makeithappen and watch the video titled "Chasing Perfect."
Excerpted from Make it Happen by Lara Casey. Copyright © 2014 Lara Casey. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Welcome to Your Start, xv,
PART ONE: SURRENDER YOUR FEAR,
1. Stop Chasing Perfect, 3,
2. Meet Your Fear, 15,
3. End the Extremes, 26,
4. Find an Anchor, 39,
5. Decide You Can, 45,
6. Let It Go, 56,
PART TWO: TAKE THE LEAP,
7. Leap into Trust, 67,
8. Take a Leap of Faith, 79,
9. Leap into What Matters, 90,
PART THREE: LIVE ON PURPOSE,
10. Follow the Real Success Equation, 103,
11. Make Room for Grace, 120,
12. Follow Him, 132,
PART FOUR: YOUR GUIDE TO MAKE IT HAPPEN,
How to Use This Guide, 143,
Step 1: Evaluate Your Life, 148,
Step 2: Clear the Clutter, 155,
Step 3: Set Purposeful Goals, 175,
Step 4: Take Action, 190,
Step 5: Encourage Others, 202,
The Best Is Yet to Come, 205,
About the Author, 211,
About Southern Weddings, 213,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book is a must read for busy mommas, who are also entrepreneurs or those working toward a goal or dream. Seeing inside of Lara's heart and story provides inspiration for those who are about to give up. This author pours her heart and soul into each page, while providing guidance to others ready to "make it happen!" Hoping this is the first of many books from her. --Heidi LoCicero, Frill Seekers Gifts
I cannot even begin to say enough good things about this book.When I first got my Powersheets from Lara’s shop, I found out about this book and immediately added it to my to-read list. I knew I would eventually get around to purchasing a hard copy, but when I came across a deal for an eBook version, I couldn’t not get it. I started reading it right away, and was hooked instantly. I was already reading Harry Potter in the morning before my math class, so I decided I would read her book at night before falling asleep. I found myself reading more pages than planned. I loved hearing about Lara’s life and all that she went through to bring her to who she is today. It was fun really getting to know her. I’ve only been following her online presence for a couple of months, so it was really cool to get to know her a little bit more personally. She’s a wonderful person, and someone I definitely admire. Her faith in God is beautiful. She has truly inspired me to feel more connected with God, and to pray more. We may not be of the same religious faith, but we do agree on one thing: that God loves us, and He needs us to help Him bring souls back to Him. I can’t even begin to tell you the influence she’s had on me. I found myself relying more on God. My thoughts were starting to turn to God instantly, and I found myself kneeling for prayer instead of just when I’m laying in bed at night. I found myself picking up my scriptures every morning and night, and even writing in my journal. I felt happier, and more at peace with this change in my life. I’ve always been a bit hesitant to really let people of other faiths influence me (new post on that soon) but with her it just felt right, and it was so nice to feel connected to God and to someone who could relate to me so well. When I finished the book, before the guide/work book part came, I was deeply saddened. I wanted to keep reading about her life and how everything has turned out. Obviously, seeing her online presence is enough to know how her story turned out. But I was a little bit sad that I was no longer reading her words and being challenged to do something in my life. When the work book came, I felt disappointed that I didn’t buy the hard copy so I could write my answers in the book. But it was pure brilliance! They way she asked the questions that she did was perfect. I found myself really looking at my life and what matters most. I started looking at what I was valuing right now, instead of what I should have been all along. She challenged me to challenge myself. I felt so much more connected to my Powersheets than I ever thought was possible. This book is definitely going on my favorites shelf, and is most definitely going to be a book I recommend to everyone. It is a wonderful, well written, book on inspiration and making what matters happen. I promise you will not regret reading this and getting to know Lara.
On the back cover of the book, it says "Make It Happen is for ... women who find themselves worried, anxious, and completely overwhelmed by the constant chase for perfection." That sentence alone sparked my interest and I knew I wanted to read this book. Because more often that I care to admit, that is exactly how I feel - worried, anxious, and completely overwhelmed. It wasn't the only time in the book I found myself nodding along as author Lara Casey tells the story of her life and how she finally stopped chasing perfect and instead started living on purpose. Lara bravely shares about her struggles and how God brought her to a new place of following Him and His desires for her. She encourages readers to let go of their fears and begin to cultivate a meaningful life. Throughout the book, there are opportunities to reflect and take action on what you've read, as well as a practical workbook-style action guide at the end to use as a tool to make things happen in your own life. Overall, I really enjoyed the book. I was inspired by Lara's story and to see the way God has worked in her heart and in her life. Reading through the book caused me to stop and reflect on a few areas in my own life too and how I can take steps to be intentional and choose to live on purpose each day. I appreciated the concrete examples Lara gave and the online resources too. If you are looking for a book to encourage you and guide you on how to make things happen in your life, this one is worth checking out.
This book has spoken so many truths into my life. It was just the kick in the pants that I needed. Each chapter is packed with vulnerability, sincerity, Biblical truth, and practical application. Page after page you can't help but feel inspired and that you can do anything. Next to the Bible, this is one of the most impactful books I have ever read.
(Book provided for review by booklookbloggers.) Oh I dearly love Lara Casey and watching her online life is so inspiring. But this book of hers, which I know was written with tears, guts, vulnerability, and lots of grace, is even more inspiring. ]Fair warning that I haven't finished the book entirely yet, but I wanted to share the review-so-far so you can get your copy ASAP and read with me in our Facebook Book Club (details below)! Not going to lie, the introduction made me cry. I have already underlined and highlighted so many phrases in this book. Be sure to keep a dedicated notebook handy, as this book is part work-book as well, and leads you through exercises on almost every page to get to the bottom of surrendering your own fear, taking the leap, and living on purpose. Lara doesn't just tell her story, she gives actionable tools to help you live the BEST of your story. This would be a fantastic group read or Bible Study book, Lara confesses in the intro, "I feared my anxiety would hold me back from the things I was created to do. I was afraid I would always be stuck." Can we cue the tears? Then she says, "You were created for a purpose, and it's time to make it happen." This is one of those life-changing books if you let it and you do the work. This is one of those books you have to engage with, cry over, discuss with friends, and ultimately, be free to fly. Book provided for review by booklookbloggers.