Cultivating What Really Matters: How to Grow An Intentional Life

Posted in Inspiration
on June 27, 2017

Cultivating means “to prepare, break up, raise or grow, acquire or develop…to pay attention”. Typically, cultivating refers to growing crops, tilling the soil, and watching good things grow.  In Lara Casey’s  newest book, she encourages us to Cultivate an Intentional Life with grace and a whole lot of faith.  She discusses how tending to our heart, mind, and soul are similar to tilling soil, and that in the dark and messy places of our journey is often where beautiful things grow.

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Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life set out to change our mindset about the lies we tell ourselves.  Lies like, ” I have to be perfect” & “I have to do it all” which ultimately kill our spirit, don’t they?

Lara delicately shares her very personal story throughout the book, and slowly leads us into the garden of her heart where hope and faith grow abundantly.  But, it wasn’t always that way.  She’s just like you and me.  She had many seasons to experience in her life,  and I am so thankful that she listened to God’s leading and shared her story.

She leads us down a path of understanding we don’t have to be perfect, but instead “it is in the imperfect that things grow”.  She encourages us to drop the idea of perfection at the door, and instead live intentionally and with grace.

Never in a million years when I started this blog, did I  think I would get the opportunity to meet such an amazing person like Lara, let alone be asked to help get the word out about her newest book.  She’s like my new fiery red-headed, bubbly best friend.  And, after seeing several thank-filled Facebook LIVE videos over the last several weeks, I can’t help but read Cultivate in her voice, as if she’s talking directly to me.

When I received my advanced copy of Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life in my email, I couldn’t wait to dive right in.  And, believe it or not, I’ve only made it through 2 chapters!

Why?  Because I can’t stop taking notes, stopping to reflect, & spending time in prayerful reflection.  This will be a book that I slowly absorb over the next few weeks, and I hope you join me also.

I can’t wait to share with you in future blog posts what the Lord is showing me as I wander through these gracious words.  He’s already revealed so much to me in the few pages I’ve read so far.

Here are some of my favorite lessons and quotes from the first chapters of Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life:

“God is the author of change.”

“Making a mess doesn’t mean you become one.”

“Too much of a good thing can still be too much.”

In the first chapter, Lara tackles the lie I know I tell myself all the time, that I have to do it all.  She shares a list of areas of life where we may need to be cultivating, and as I stared at that list I realized that many of the things I’ve been focusing on are really things that don’t need to be cultivated in my life.

Like Lara says, “you can’t do it all and do it all well”.  So often I bite off more than I can chew!  How about you?

As I meandered through that chapter slowly, God really spoke to me about areas of my life that I am afraid to cultivate for fear of failure, fear of getting hurt, and fear of not being accepted or loved.

And, as I neared the end of chapter 1, Lara helped me weed out the garden in my heart, to reveal “my biggest weed”…overwhelming guilt that I didn’t even realize was there.

“Where you can’t, He already has.”

“Choose cultivating over keeping up.”

As I worked my way through that first chapter, I wrote out a list of action steps that I can do to help relieve myself of the overwhelming guilt that squelches and dries out the soil of my spirit.  These action steps I’ll share with you over these upcoming weeks.

“Maybe there was a purpose in this pain.  In this blank slate.  Maybe this season of grief was part of God’s good plan.”

The second chapter came at the perfect time in my life, as my husband’s uncle was re-diagnosed with cancer and not given much time to live.  The 2nd chapter is all about “finding purpose in the pain”, which is exactly what I needed at this time.

We were about to embark on yet another dark and painful season of life as we eventually had to say goodbye to him.  But, as this chapter reveals,

“In the seasons we find balance.”

We know as Christians that our life will not always be perfect, but as Lara points out spring flowers bloom out of the cold hard soil of winter.

“We dismiss the dirt and the mess as bad….But, dirt holds a certain kind of magic, cradling new life.  Your past mistakes, your heartaches, your circumstances and the tension you feel right now in your season- every bit of it is part of your growing ground.”

What season of life are you in right now?  Are you in a season of growth and refinement?  Are you celebrating victories and successes, or are you patiently waiting for answers?

Lara though the powerful words in this book, walks you through the seasons of life and offers words of wisdom and encouragement from someone who’s been there.  You are not alone, friend.  We have all been in a season of struggle, a season of questioning, a season that is bleak and gray, as well as seasons of joy and sunshine.

“I’m in a continual state of coming undone.  It turns out that coming undone is part of coming alive.”

Can I pray for you today, sweet friend?  What is it that your heart desires?  What prayers are still seedlings that are waiting to sprout and bloom in your life?

In my own life, I have been praying for a sweet baby for years now.  The guilt that overwhelms my heart often centers around the desire to be a mother and give my husband that family that I know he desires.

Many nights I cry out to God in sheer desperation for Him to answer this prayer.  And, in chapter 2 of Cultivate, Lara shares a perspective of prayer that I hadn’t noticed in all my years in Sunday school, church services, and ministry.

You know that simple little word we utter at the end of our prayers to an Almighty God….”amen”?  Have you ever wondered what that word actually means?

I guess I’d never really thought about it.  But, Lara shares that the word

“Amen: means ‘let it be’.  Embracing the season you’re in doesn’t mean you have to love it.  You just have to let it be.”

What a powerful truth.

I promise you, that if you are in a season of life where you feel like an absolute mess, you are not alone.  Take my hand, we’ll get through this together.  One step, one seed, one “amen” at a time.

Here are some of my final favorite thoughts from chapter 2 of Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life that I just have to share with you….

“Feelings aren’t the enemy, but sometimes they can lead us away from the truth….I may feel like my heart is a mess, but I know God transforms our messes into our message….I may feel alone, isolated and lonely at times, but I know that God never, ever leaves me.  God uses imperfect people to do His will.”

If you feel challenged and excited to read this life-giving book, read it along with me and join my Cultivate An Intentional Life Book Club.  Every week you’ll receive an email of encouragement as we read our way through these amazing chapters.  Sign up in the box below, and you’ll receive an email from me over the next couple of days with more details!

“When we let God’s grace lead us, instead of perfection, good things get cultivated, right where we are.”

Cultivate Book Club Instructions:

1. Purchase Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life

2. Read Chapter 1…it’s a good one!

3. Take notes and journal as God reveals simple but dramatic truths to you.

4. Join me in your inbox every week on Mondays as we discuss each chapter.

I’ll see you again soon, friend.  Happy Reading!


"Cultivate" Book Club

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1 Comment

  • Reply Susannah

    Sounds like a wonderful, life-giving book!

    June 28, 2017 at 1:38 pm
  • Leave a Reply

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