Living an ‘Intentional Life’ Isn’t About Following Rules

In a new book called 'Cultivate,' author discusses God's grace — and how to find it and follow it more deliberately

Living a grace-filled, intentional life is not just about following a specific formula, author Lara Casey told LifeZette in an interview.

“Your path is going to be unique,” said Casey by phone. “We were each given a unique assignment here on this earth.”

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While living intentionally is vital especially in the spiritual realm, the challenge is how to do that amid the noise and chaos of daily existence.

A North Carolina-based wife and mother of three young children — one of whom is adopted — Casey guides readers in living purposefully. “The dreams God has for us become clear when we tune out the opinions of the world and pay close attention to His voice,” she says in her new book, “Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life.”

There are many different ways “to grow what matters,” as the author’s own story makes clear. Over the past 2 1/2 years, Casey said God broke her down to build her back up. This changed the trajectory of her family life and it’s why she says the book is “really about surrender.”

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A lot was going on in her life, in the areas of relationships and parenting. “Two years ago, I was about to have a baby and wondered how I was going to be a mom to two,” Casey wrote in a recent Instagram post. “I went into it blindly, trusting we would just figure it out. I was a year behind in writing ‘Cultivate,’ and the direction of the book changed as many times as our lives did. Six months after Josh’s birth, we adopted Sarah. Life fell apart as we tried to keep it all together. I felt like a horrible mom. A useless leader. And you know what? I was. I was relying on my own strength — trying to get it all done, and the only thing that felt done was me. But in a scary experience that made me surrender in prayer — facing my weakness — something broke. It turns out that coming undone is part of coming alive.”

Trusting in God often provides strength we didn’t even know we had.

“There are many lessons God has taught me in my garden and parallels to life that have literally sprouted out of the ground and showed me a lot of His truths,” said Casey. Her book contains practical tips, particularly aimed at women, for “flourishing.”

“We are fed a lot of lies, and it’s easy to get distracted,” she added. “In the book, I confront the 10 most common lies that we, as women, tend to believe. Some examples are: We have to do it all. We have to know the path ahead and all the plans ahead before we step forward. Another lie is: Waiting is not good or productive.”

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“Too often, we unknowingly dream everyone else’s dreams. We feel pressured to chase after what’s expected, what’s comfortable, what appears to be fulfilling to someone else, and what can fit neatly into a box with a bow on top,” she writes in the book. “But you were not made for a box, my friend.”

God’s grace is a key ingredient — a “transforming grace” that motivates the author on a daily basis and can motivate others as well. “Women especially believe that we have to do things fast, that we need to get to the finish line yesterday,” she told LifeZette. “It’s OK to grow slowly. When you’re just beginning a goal you want to accomplish … it’s about progress, not perfection.”

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Everyone needs “periods of rest and renewal. We need periods of hard work and exercise as well … We even need to ’embrace awkward,'” she notes in the book.

“Taking big leaps of faith, embracing the awkward (lots of awkward!), and putting myself out there … with others has changed my family.”

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