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Making Things Happen 2016

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MTH Group 2015

Hey friends! Making Things Happen is happening again, and I’m so grateful to be a part of it. Before I give my recap of my last MTH, you can grab your early bird seat here before January 29th and save $1000. Just saying’ – JUMP ON IT.

This past MTH was such a unique experience for me. It was the gut-check I needed since becoming a mama, because the last time I went through MTH I was quite pregnant.

MTH March 2016

To be honest, I was expecting some huge, momentous, life-changing emotion to hit me now that I have a daughter. I was thinking to myself, “I did it! I made it happen. I’m a mama now, so let’s see what I get out of this MTH that will be different from all the others.” Honestly, I shouldn’t have had any expectations. That’s what I tell everyone who goes through MTH : LEAVE your expectations BEHIND and let God say what He wants to say. Period.

MTH Speakers

So after writing and digging and searching and processing, I came away with this: yes, I’m a mama now. I love my daughter so much, and it’s so fun to dream bigger since she’s part of our lives. But more than that, I’m still me. I’m still a daughter of God first, a wife, a mama, a friend, a business owner. My identity has grown to encompass “mama,” but it hasn’t changed. I’m still who I am.

MTH Workbooks

Can I be real for a second? MTH was challenging this time around because I’m a mama. It is much more difficult to wake up early and have my morning routine, my workout schedule, to check things off my list like I always have. It’s hard to do that stuff now because of this tiny person that I love who grows every day and demands so much of my attention. But MTH made me ask myself again: WHAT do I want to make happen?

MTH Nancy Ray

Do I want to make a checklist or a business or a half marathon or ______ happen MORE than I want to make family happen? Heck no. Here are some new things I want to make happen after my last MTH experience:

1. I want to make family memories happen. Camping, visiting Milly’s great grandparents, July 4th in Beaufort, weekly family dinners, days of rest. I want Milly to remember those things – not just “mommy working” all the time.
2. I want to make a healthy lifestyle happen. This takes planning and self discipline. I promise – a healthy lifestyle does not just “happen” for me.
3. I want to make a strong business happen. Nancy Ray Photography is a calling on my life, and I want see growth in my team, growth in my work, growth in the finances of NRP, growth in our mission.
4. I want to make real ministry happen. Since MTH I have joined a women’s small group at my church, and we minister to one another weekly.
5. I want to make time with the Lord happen. Real, get on my knees prayer life. Time reading scripture. Time worshiping him at church and in my home. I want to truly abide with Him daily.

And with that, I felt a huge release at this MTH to simply prioritize. To do what I can with my best effort. Then, to be free. My identity isn’t in what I accomplish – my identity is in the Lord. Everything falls under that umbrella! Yes, Nancy Ray is a speaker, photographer, wife, runner, blogger, mama, etc. But Nancy Ray is first the Lord’s. Period.

MTH 2015 Nancy Ray

I know some of you may be reading and wondering why I’m so Jesus-y, especially since this is a photography blog for crying out loud. All I can say to that is, this is me. My heart has always aimed to give you transparency and truth in the middle of this business, and I hope you see that. And for me, being transparent means sharing Jesus with you, because He is my everything.

Back to MTH… it’s actually not a Christian conference! Ha! It’s a conference created to help you dig deep and create action steps towards what matters most to YOU. Click here and read about it to find out more. It’s changed my life in so many ways, I can’t wait to hear what the spring has in store!

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Making Things Happen

This post originally appeared on The PK Posse.

MTH Fall 2015

In early November of 2015, I had the privilege of attending the Making Things Happen conference in Chapel Hill, NC. Here is a bit of paraphrasing from the event description, because I can’t really say it much better.

This two-day conference, led by Lara Casey, author of Make it Happen, is designed to fire you up and set you on a powerful path. During the conference, led by Lara Casey, attendees dig deep, establish priorities, uncover a purposeful vision for their life and business, set goals, and discover how to make what matters most happen. Making Things Happen was founded on the idea that you have the choice to change your life. It was designed to fire people up to make bold decisions towards their best lives and empower them to step into their fears instead of away from them. Even those who have gone through the Making Things Happen experience have a hard time articulating it, but that’s okay – alums are encouraged to let their actions explain the powerful changes they’ve experienced! 

MTH Lara Casey

The conference was enlightening for me. It helped me figure things out in both my personal and professional life in ways I didn’t even think I needed. It helped me uncover what really matters to me, what matters most. And it gave me the wisdom and clarity to make “it” happen. “It” is something different and personal for everyone. For me, “it” became balance.

I’ve had a little over two months to digest everything I learned, and while I don’t plan to do a big long post about the conference, I do plan to incorporate bits and pieces into my posts here and there.

MTH Breakout Groups

I went to Chapel Hill feeling so overwhelmed and exhausted. I left feeling purposeful and encouraged. I thought I went to figure out what to do in my career. I work from home full-time as a graphic designer and social media strategist for a government contractor out out the NoVA/DC area, which has never been my dream job but has provided a stable income for my family for the past four years. Since giving birth to Preston a year ago, I had come to resent my job for taking time away from Preston. I recently learned that I’ll more than likely be losing my job in the next 6 months or so because the contract I work on was not renewed with the government. It left me terrified and scared about not being able to contribute to our family’s income. I’ve always wanted to own my own business, but after I failed at my first freelance attempt several years ago and went into a bad depression, I’ve been scared to try again. I felt overwhelmed with what to do next. Everything has been piling up — chores, housework, work, fights with Joshua. At the conference, Lara shared a story about one morning when she yelled at her young daughter because she was so stressed out with work, and that was the first point in the conference when I broke down. I’ve done this, I’ve done this more than once. I’ve yelled at my sweet, sweet baby boy, for no reason other than being too stressed to handle whatever the situation was in a positive and intentional way. He never deserved that from me. I’m crying as I type this, because I hate that I’ve done it. I hate that I filled my tank with so much of what doesn’t matter that it took over what does matter.

::deep breath::

I know now that work and business are not my first priority. It’s my family. It’s my husband and my baby. They are my reasons for it all, and I want to make balance happen. I’ve been working on it everyday since leaving the conference, and I’ve already messed up several times. But as I also learned, sometimes your mess becomes your message. And my mess is becoming my message. Somehow, after setting my priority as family and giving myself permission to keep them at #1, everything else has been falling into place. I don’t understand it, and it’s crazy and messy and not totally how I pictured it, but it’s all happening.

Making Things Happen Speakers
I am so grateful to Lara Casey, to my breakout session leaders, and to the new friends I made in those two days for changing my life and giving me perspective and purpose.

Photos by Callie Davis of Nancy Ray Photography

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Making Things Happen Conference & Perfect Timing

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Making Things Happen 2015

I look at this picture and I see a girl in the middle of a storm. Smiling and trying to keep it together, but feeling really lost.

Last March, I hit rock bottom.

Not that my rock bottom is anything that super dramatic, but for me, after many years of chasing dreams and things and always being on the go, go, go…my feet failed me and hit the ground hard.

It’s not like it all happened at once in one dramatic flourish, but it was over several months and weeks….and falling in slow motion.

Chapters ended on many things in my life from late 2014 to 2015. A previous career ended, dreams and goals turned upside down in my business, my former life as a mom to just one was now a memory, friendships changed, and not to mention a poorly timed eye surgery that took a longer recovery than initially thought and left me with poor vision for months.

In that time I also started a new job where I placed so many high expectations on myself, I put band aids on issues of what I was capable of and desiring within my own business, I was focused on making everyone else happy around me, and did I mention I struggled hard with being a new mom all over again? My superwoman powers failed me and I pretty much felt like I walking in the dark without an end in sight. I kept most of my struggles wrapped up close, except for the few who could see right through the cover up that something was really wrong.

I’m so grateful for those few…Carli, Nicolle, Heather, Ashlee, Sam, the MTH gals and others.

I am also grateful for my faith that helped pull me through the darkness.

The turning point in it all?

My Making Things Happen conference experience this past April when I finally got real with myself and was tired of holding onto all the baggage.

Making Things Happen Amber Housley

I’ve been blessed enough to be part of MTH for a few years now as a guest speaker. Each time I go back, I do the hard work with the attendees and share and work through whatever challenges I’m facing at the time. I can absolutely say that each experience is different than the time before because frankly, we all change. Our lives start new chapters, there are new priorities to balance, and new dreams to work toward. Usually I come prepared with a notion of my struggles and things I want to make happen in addition to the encouragement I want to offer others.

But this last time? I felt like i had nothing to give.

So instead I just threw the whole mess on the table. I openly shared about what brought me to that point. About what a mess I was in and all the mistakes I was making and the failures I had.

That even as a returning speaker many times over, I DO NOT HAVE IT ALL FIGURED OUT. (side note: I never will.)

I had no pretty bow to tie it all up with.

As I finished, I looked at the room of 100+ blankly with tears running down my cheek, and not knowing how to close it, said, “well, that’s it. I’ll let you know how it turns out.”

I later went into a MTH breakout session and told my group that I will definitely be there to support them. But you know what? I needed help, too. I needed their messages of support to get through this.

And they did. Little text messages here and there lifted me up these last few months.

And I prayed.

There’s more to the story between then and now, but months later, and hours spent in the car thinking, I’ve come to know out of this journey that all of this was to bring me closer to Him.

When I tried to think on reasons on why things failed and why friends walked out on me, I believe it was because he wanted to me focus on Him alone. To find my strength and identity there.

Making Things Happen Note to Self

Last week I received a card I wrote myself during my time at MTH. It was perfectly timed, of course.

In it, I promised myself that the valley would end and that there would be many more mountain peaks to see.
That I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

I said all the words I didn’t feel at that moment and all the words that I hoped I would feel again.

So here I am. Exactly as I was promised, and supposed to be. Grateful to be climbing again with a stronger sense of self, of faith, and purpose.

Things didn’t magically happen and transform themselves during my time at MTH, but they are exactly where my next chapter needed to start.

I’ll be returning to Making Things Happen for the seventh time this Fall. The early bird rate ends today with the opportunity to save half off. If you’re feeling lost or looking for encouragement to take the next leap, I hope you will join us! More details and grab your seat on the site here.

Conference photos by Robyn Van Dyke Photography.

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Making Things Happen! Conference Recap

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Nancy and I were privileged again to speak at the Making Things Happen! Conference in March. This is a semi-annual highlight for us, as we enjoy getting to share our story and our hearts on winning with money!

Making Things Happen Lara Casey

Nancy is a main conference speaker, and we share the responsibility of leading a small group. I get my turn on day two, when I get to share some keys for winning with money in a small business setting, some personal tips, and really try to help people realize that how they handle their money affects their ability to “make things happen” in their lives.

MTH Nancy and Will

This year, a recurring theme that kept popping up in a few different contexts was contentment. At the end of day two, I did some serious thinking and meditation on contentment, and that shaped some of my remarks on day two. That message became sort of a theme for me over the last few weeks since the conference, and I’m looking forward to working with Nancy to create a few contentment-centered resources.

MTH Will Ray

It’s always a little odd being the only guy at a conference, but I’ve been there before, so it wasn’t awful. It got a lot better on day two when Andrew, Rhi’s (another speaker) husband showed up that morning and surprised her from out of state. We held it down for the male contingent on day two.

MTH Nancy Ray

You always come up with a few “main things” to work on when leaving the conference. Here are mine:

– Take a month off from work when baby arrives. Crazy, but possible, and a big part of why we’re self-employed is the freedom to work hard and take off time when it works for us.
– Reclaim an additional $150 in our budget for additional baby costs. Still working on that.
– Publish an eBook about our money story that will help inspire and empower others to make big changes with their money.

I’ve got a lot to do before this baby arrives!

Making Things Happen Will and Nancy Ray

Nancy and I are thrilled to again be part of the Making Things Happen! Conference in the fall, which you can register for here! Early bird pricing applies through June!

Many thanks to Robyn Van Dyke for the photos from the conference!

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