Feature Friday: Lori Gano


If there was one word to describe the process of my life this may just be it. I am not quite sure if that might be a poor choice for a life-word. There are perhaps words I would prefer, but “transformed” is something I find acceptable and maybe even appealing. It not only describes where I have journeyed thus far, but it also defines my aim for my future days and years.
Transformed is a beautiful label for my personal walk, my professional ambitions, and my spiritual process of maturing. I have been forever changed by the extravagant love of Christ. There is nothing quite as discouraging as watching someone, anyone, with potential destroy their future because of a past they cannot seem to overcome. I reached a place in my life where my inventory of years consisted of abuse, abandonment, neglect, loneliness, addiction, panic disorder, PTSD, anorexia, and hate…a lot of hate. My body was consumed with more fear than any one being should be able to survive. Those things did not fuel depression for me. They fueled ambition.
I could twist the perception of this post right here, and I could develop this into a story of rising success. I could base it on my need to prove to the world that its mistreatment of me was not going to define me, and let’s be honest, I tried that route. I didn’t know any better. I just knew I wanted to be better, better than my parents, better than the friends I never had, better than the men I let into my life that I had no business being around, and better than the darkness that threatened to consume me everyday. I wanted acceptance to drown out the voice of rejection. I chased the dream of success not realizing that I needed the joy that comes with the process of transformation.
Can I tell you something? God loves us so much in our dirtiest, ugliest, most cringe-worthy places that He would spend His days singing love songs to your heart while He has appointed a perfectly designed future for your purpose, and guess what…it is transforming. God knew I couldn’t handle deep relationships anytime soon. He knew I needed the satisfaction of exercising my love of art, creativity, homes, and working with my hands. He knew I didn’t learn in a classroom, but in the field where I could be messy and a part of the lesson. God gave me the blessing of working in construction. I then became a Licensed General Contractor. I started a residential design/build company. We weren’t always super stable, but we were honest, fair, and skilled. On the outside I was a “self-made” woman who built something out of nothing. In reality I was a woman surrendered to God who was given an opportunity to be loved by Him, and I took it.
Through my passion for transforming homes God began transforming me. Love began to
replace hate. Patience replaced frustration. Hope replaced disappointment. The process of demo and removing what doesn’t need to be there, and then working through issues, adjusting plans, rebuilding, and bringing out the full potential in order to transform a house has a deep parallel to the restoring work God longs to do in our lives. There is no better vantage point than standing outside of a structure with its roof torn off and its walls peeled back. Suddenly there is clarity to see what has been hiding in deep and difficult places. This is His way as well. My goal is never to destroy a home, it is to transform a home into its fullest potential. This is God’s aim in your life, whether you have no roof or walls, if you have no job, no money, no spouse, no child.
If you have walked through tremendous difficulties, are simply weary, or aren’t sure He can be trusted with your hope, I can tell you His aim is never to destroy you. He is exposing, bringing clarity, and rebuilding. He is the master builder and He has an A+ rating.
As much as I wish there were, there is not a tidy finish line. My transforming process happened in the course of many things God allowed me to do. It didn’t happen because of my career; it happened because I surrendered my life to God and through each daily experience He worked on growing His presence and wisdom in my life – no longer leaving room for the darkness that had once consumed me. He transformed me.
God has taken me, used and abused, a mess of my own making, and rebuilt every part of me.He has allowed me to fail miserably and He has placed me on the mountaintop. Even now He is using my surrender, my willingness, paired with my experience to be a voice to others.
As you wrestle through the difficult task of looking at your today or looking anxiously into your future, don’t get caught up in any label except maybe the one that reads transformation. One day at a time surrender yourself, your career, your family to Him and ask Him for the transforming process of the destiny He has for you. Is your hope aiming toward becoming the best version of the you that God knows you to be in your future, or is your hope dangerously affixed to the ambition you cannot seem to let go of? My freedom arrived when I boxed up and handed over my need for success and accepted in exchange a box filled with the unknown future God was asking of me. That box arrives one day at a time.
Lori Gano
Wife & Mom
P.S. I left a little something extra for you! I hope it gets you excited to try new things in your own home. Be on the lookout for my video on The Real Life Woman page!
Licensed General Contractor
Architectural & Interior Designer
Published Author of
How He Loves Us: Revealing the Affections of God
Coming in August 2017
Bible Teacher, Speaker, and Founder of Out of Ashes Ministries, Inc.
If you are in the Knoxville area we would love to have you join us for a new upcoming study of How He Loves Us: Revealing the Affections of God.
This is a unique Bible study open to any
women in the Knoxville area who would like to attend. Find out more by visiting our Facebook page:

My 100 Days

Hi Ladies!

I wanted to get a little personal this week, but before I get started I want to put a trigger warning on this post. This will be about Postpartum Depression.

What is postpartum depression  and why does no one feel like they can talk about it?
The dictionary defines PPD as; depression suffered by a mother following childbirth, typically arising from the combination of hormonal changes, psychological adjustment to motherhood, and fatigue.
I think that’s a nice way to sum it up without going too deep. Unfortunately, that definition just barely touches the surface. Most women have been made to feel that there’s something wrong with them if they have feelings have sadness, overwhelm, anxiety, and anger following childbirth but the reality is we all go through hormonal changes but the varying degrees are what can separate our journeys.

Mine started a few days into being a mother, my counselor had warned me that the first 72 hrs post birth is when the biggest hormonal shift happens. I listened and I thought I was prepared. I had left the hospital 24hrs after a 13hr birthing process where I was only at the hospital for about 5hr and 41min of all of that. I was lucky enough to have had my husband home for the first week of being parents where we basically locked out the world besides my awesome mom who brought us baby goodies and let us take showers. Those 6 days at home we slept (okay, he slept), watched way too much TV, and loved on our newborn son.  Seven days went by and it was time for my husband to go back to work, I definitely again thought I was prepared. I wasn’t. At all. I spent the next 3 weeks in my bathrobe and pajamas basically 24 hrs a day trying to nurse only to discover my sons latch just wasn’t going to work for us. I switched to pumping full time, feeling even more like I had lost all control of my body and myself. Don’t get me wrong, I am beyond thankful that my body was able to provide for my son for the 9 weeks it did before I got sick. But here’s the deal, postpartum for me was sneaky. It was full of isolating, crying, and thinking I HAD to do it all.

Being a brand-spankin’-new mom, wife (less than a yr), and entrepreneur meant that I felt like I had to have the clean house since I was staying home, the perfect child, and I hoped my business would be successful. Besides a healthy child none of this happened. I showered maybe 2x a week, my house looked like a bomb went off, I was hating my body on the regular because I had gained (a healthy amount) weight and my body looked foreign to me, all I wanted to do was sleep and the crying baby really got under my skin (I always take care of little man, don’t worry), and most of all I was doubting our choice to get pregnant in the first place. My husband, bless his heart, had no idea how to help me and still doesn’t. He tries so hard to do the dishes and help when asked but most days its even hard to look at him, but he doesn’t know that. But that’s the thing, postpartum depression looks like so many different things for different people. Personally, like I mentioned it was isolating… which meant I had to force myself out the house and to stop bingeing on netflix drama series crap. It was crying… over nothing and everything. I remember sitting on the couch talking to my son about how great he was going to be and how he could do anything when he grows up and bam, it hit, the tears and I KNEW PPD was in my world now. I let it take over. It took over my relationship with my son, my husband, friends, and even my business.

About two weeks ago I read this article about the 100 days of darkness, basically the 1st 100 days postpartum and it talked about how big the adjustment is and how dark it is for most mothers. Nothing magic happens on day 101 but as baby adjusts, life balances, and as time progresses the darkness lifts. I believe it. We are about 120 days into this parenthood thing and the fog is lifting. I’m starting to get some consistent sleep, business is beginning to flourish, and my relationship with my husband still sucks… but that too shall get better, I think we need a date night eventually.

For those who have battled out PPD and succeed, I applaud you. This is a hard cycle to go through and most you battled it for months and maybe even years.

For those of you who are where I am, in the midst of PPD and the side effects of it that bleed into every aspect of your life, we are stronger than the PPD and this too shall pass.


Feature Friday: Lisa Heimann

My name is Lisa. I am 30 years old. I am a devoted wife and mother. My husband, Chris, and I have been married 5 years, together for 12 years. Together we have a beautiful daughter Abigail, whom is 10 years old. I am an entrepreneur. I own and operate a successful small jewelry and vinyl business from home.
Though I recently started handcrafting jewelry, I have found a new love with designing and creating custom and pre-made, etched jewelry.  I also design and craft vinyl decals, coffee mugs, t-shirts for men, women, children and much more.  Both jewelry and vinyl have been a big part of my life for the past two years. Vinyl began as a hobby, then turned into a passion. I wanted to stay home, while helping to make ends meet. Although it wasn’t a consistent income, I wanted to continue. I was very nervous at the beginning. I would worry about how I was going to do this and purchase that. I was afraid that I would not be successful. I kept a very persistent, confident attitude. With a strong mind-set, I was able to focus more and from that point on, my business grew tremendously. I have been able to expand and offer more products and services to my customers.  All things come to those who wait and sure enough, my small business now has clientele.
I have learned some valuable lessons in the past two years. Knowing how to separate business and personal life is at the top of that list. That was very challenging at first, but I slowly started to wear myself out. I became unfocused and at times discouraged. I dealt with this for a while before I found a balance. That is ok. There is no time limit on when we find a balance between work and home life. It will come and everything will fall into place. Before you know it, that will be a thing of the past and you will move ahead. Another valuable lesson I have learned is that you need to set a budget. Materials, new equipment, etc. is expensive. I still struggle with this but I was told from another small business owner that the first year is always a loss financially. As I came into my second year, I slowly started to realize that some products were not selling as well as some products and so I then decided to not waste any more time and money.
For anyone wanting to start their  own small business, I say go for it.  Do not worry about everything all at once, take your time.  It’s a slow process and if you feel yourself getting frustrated, simply walk away, take a break and regroup.

Strive for progress not perfection. If you are tempted to worry, fret or obsess ask the Lord to remind you to, pray, trust and let go.  -Liz Curtis Higgs

To check out more of Lisa’s work please visit her page on Facebook.

Who do you surround yourself with?

Someone once told me “You are a sum of the 5 people you surround yourself with.”

When it comes to relationships, we are greatly influenced whether we like it or not- by those closest to us.  It affects our way of thinking, our self-esteem, and our decisions. Although we are each our own person, research shows that we are more affected by our environment then we think.

So the question is: Who do you surround yourself with?

Are they people that are positive? Do they push you to your full potential? Do they encourage you and your ideas and dreams? If they answer is yes then you are doing a great job at choosing your friends. But If you think about your friends and words like negative, discouraging, unmotivated and unsupportive come to mind, you may want to re-evaluate those friendships and if they are worth sacrificing your goals and dreams for.

We are only as strong as our weakest link and if someone is constantly pulling you down its gonna be extremely hard to reach your full potential. Don’t let toxic relationships drag you down.

Take some time and really think about who you want to surround yourself with.  For me, I want to be around people that will constantly propel me forward. Friends that aren’t afraid to push me out of my comfort zone,  that want me to succeed and will encourage me every step of the way. Don’t settle for anything less then the BEST!

Do I need to do this?

Do you ever have activities that you dread doing or going to? Have you ever sat down and asked yourself, will this bring me joy/excitement/goodness?

Honestly, I’m not the best at doing this and that’s why I wanted to share some wisdom that I’ve learned along the way. We all must learn to say NO to the things that do not serve us. If we say NO to everything, of course that’s not good. What I’m getting at is saying NO to things when you know in your heart they will not improve your life. Do make sure you are saying YES to things that will bring you out of your comfort zone to experience life in greater ways, because those things will typically lead to joy and growth.

I’m a YES girl. I need to be more of a NO girl. What about you?

I say yes to more than is good for me, but I have learned over the years what my boundaries are and what activities light me up or drain me. I love spending extra time chatting with girlfriends over coffee, but I don’t love picking up that extra shift at work. I enjoy traveling and meeting new people but I will say NO when I’ve hit my limit and need some me time. Personally, I think it’s so important that we learn to find balance in our lives and learn to recognize what fills our cup and what drains it.

Lately, being a new mom and newer wife has meant my life is out of balance and it’s been okay but now I’m ready to get back to finding Mariah – again. This will mean perfecting the great balancing act of friends, family, and self which is difficult for most women. We feel like we need to be all things to all people and that just isn’t the case. I promise you that your sanity is more important than the extra 5 hours of work that week (if you get a choice), the birthday party of your husband’s coworker, the 7 loads of laundry that need to be done and the bathroom that needs to be cleaned.

I dare you to take a cold hard look at what you’re doing to check if it aligns with your dreams, passions, and core beliefs. Are your activities and relationships bringing you joy? I challenge you to list out things that fill your cup and those that drain it, it will help clarify what to say  yes to and what to say no to in your life. This is a step towards regaining your balance.

Feature Friday: Carly Cloer

I’m so excited that Carly Cloer has given us some of her time. In this video she will talk about how she finally found her passion after years of searching for the right opportunity to be in business for herself.

Carly is a wife, mom of two boys, entrepreneur, and resides in Washington State, USA.


Time Management

Time management… why is it important, and what can I do to get things done? I used to wonder the same thing. The problem for me started when I would make a mental list of what I wanted to accomplish instead of writing it down. Unfortunately, this led to me going to bed exhausted and feeling little was achieved. I truly didn’t understand how to break this vicious cycle of waking up every morning with my goals for the day but somehow not getting it all done.

It wasn’t until I was talking to a friend about it that she asked me a simple question:

Are you scheduling out your day?

What do you mean? I asked. She reminded me that everyday there are always certain things that will happen. I am a mom, so of course I will need to love on my 2 boys and make sure everyone stays alive and unharmed during the day.  I will need to change diapers, do laundry, prepares meals and so on. The problem was that I would get so tied up in my day-to-day activities I would end up forgetting about my goals for the day.  By the time 11pm would roll around I realized my personal goals had not been achieved. She encouraged me every morning to write out not only my goals for the day, but when I was going to accomplish them. This meant that for me I get the bulk of my work done during my youngest’s nap time. I was amazed at what could happen and how much focus I had when I set aside the time each day.

The daily activities and chores do take time and should be planned out just like our goals. We are wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, professionals, entrepreneurs, and so much more. We are nurturing, and because of that often times put ourselves on the back burner. The thing is, we can do both! Sometimes it takes being creative and a little sacrifice, but in reality a big factor is time management.

I encourage you today that if you feel like you are failing at getting things done, to take a day and make time in your schedule for the things important to you. I think you will be surprised how much we are capable of.