Book Review: “Cultivate” by Lara Casey

July 12, 2017·

I am not, by trade, a professional book reviewer. I am a blogger and I am a podcaster and I love to read. I also used to be a high school English teacher back in the day… but that, again, doesn’t mean I’m a professional book reviewer. I realize there are people that actually review books for a living. I am not one of them. BUT, that doesn’t mean that I don’t love to read reviews of books from my friends, family, other bloggers, etc. I’m always looking for a good read and so, I have to assume, some of you may be, too!

One of my goals this year was to read more… for fun. I really do love to read (I feel like I’m repeating myself now…), but I realized that I wasn’t taking the time to just read for fun! A few months ago, I had the sweet and amazing, Lara Casey as a guest on my podcast. (You can listen to that episode here!) She is such an inspirational person. If you don’t know her, she is an author, a speaker, the creator of the Cultivate What Matters shop and the PowerSheets goal setting planner, and she is also the founder and publisher of Southern Weddings Magazine. Lara Casey ‘s first book, Make it Happen, was so good and I was really, really looking forward to her releasing Cultivate.

Well, Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life, released at the end of last month and I got my book in the mail the day after it launched and I binge read it in a weekend. I figured I’d share with you my “review” along with why I feel like everyone should read it.

Book Review: "Cultivate" by Lara Casey by NC blogger Still Being Molly
This review does not contain spoilers. 

Here is the “official” description of the book:

A flourishing life is possible—no perfection required!

Women often feel like they have to have it all together in order to live a meaningful life. Instead they feel inadequate, overwhelmed, and exhausted as they to figure out how to do it all. Author, business owner, and mom to three Lara Casey offers sound and grace-filled advice: “We can’t do it all, and do it well. But, we can choose to cultivate what matters.”

Welcome to the journey of getting messy in the rich soil of possibility—embracing imperfect, grace-filled progress to grow a life of joy.

Written as part encouragement anthem and part practical guide, Cultivate offers wisdom from God’s Word alongside lessons Lara has learned in her garden. Woven throughout is her personal story that helps release readers from the pressure to achieve and gives them freedom to move from planning to planting a meaningful legacy. “It’s in the imperfect—the mess of the dirt–that good things grow,” Casey reminds readers. “Peonies grow through the dirt, and so do we.” Readers will learn to embrace the season they’re in, finding balance as they interact in fresh ways with their current life scenarios, with God, and in the communities where they are planted.

Special features include

  • Actionable Cultivate It prompts throughout the book
  • A ten-week Cultivate Together discussion guide with questions for small groups
  • “Grace from the Garden” vignettes provide encouragement and inspiration

Find the joy and the freedom that comes in cultivating what matters, little by little, with God’s transforming grace.

Here’s the thing. Without getting too much into the nitty, gritty details of the book, let me just tell you who I think, in my humble opinion, this book would be good for…

  • Cultivate is for anyone who feels stuck
  • Cultivate is for anyone who feels like they can’t do it all
  • Cultivate is for the tired, weary, and worn-down mom
  • Cultivate is for the spouse who feels like they can’t measure up
  • Cultivate is for the business owner who is having a hard time seeing the fruits of their labor
  • Cultivate is for the person who feels lonely
  • Cultivate is for the man or woman who knows that they were created to do something more with their life
  • Cultivate is for anyone who needs to hear that they are capable because God is capable and can do immeasurably more than we can ever ask or imagine
  • Cultivate is for the person who needs to be refreshed, recharged, and renewed

I felt so many emotions reading Cultivate. It is (as you can see by now), a book that is designed to get you to be focused and intentional about building a life, a business, a marriage, a family, friendships, etc. that is one of eternal significance.

That sounds weighty… but it’s much less so than you might think.

Lara Casey ‘s message and encouragement to cultivate our lives right where we are planted and have the patience that things might not always happen on our time, but on God’s time, is so powerful.

There were times where I really felt like Lara was writing this book just for me. I realize that’s incredibly selfish-sounding, but you know what I mean.  I just felt things clicking, I felt things resonating, and I found myself highlighting, underlining, and writing notes in the margins on almost every page. There was one point where I felt things clicking and I had tears streaming down my face and I turned the page and there it was… 1 Peter 4:10. Right in black letters. Now, you may know that 1 Peter 4:10 is my “life” verse. I have it plastered everywhere. My email signature, my blog signature, my license plate on my car, sticky notes, jewelry. It’s everywhere. It’s what I read when I need to refocus. And there it was. I felt like it was exactly what I needed to read at that very moment.

Book Review: "Cultivate" by Lara Casey by NC blogger Still Being Molly

Cultivate is a book that I know I will go back and reread multiple times. And I am typically not a person who rereads books.

One of the things I love most about Lara Casey ‘s story is how raw, honest, and transparent she is about her own struggles, her own pain, and how God has brought her through it all. I found myself relating to so much of what she said and it gave me a renewed sense of hope and trust in God’s larger plan.

On a more practical side, another aspect of the book that I love is that it comes with a “built-in” guide at the back of the book with discussion questions and prompts for you to do a study with a small group. I am already plotting how I’m going to get my friends to read it and do the discussion guide with me.

I truly cannot recommend Cultivate enough and I’d love for you to share in the comments if you’ve read it, if you plan on reading it, or if you have any other books that are on your “recommendation” list.

Also, I’d love to know if you’d like to see more book reviews on the blog. Like I said, this isn’t necessarily my focus, but I love to read and would love to share recent reads with y’all if that’s something you’re interested in!

You can purchase Cultivate by Lara Casey on Amazon or wherever books are sold!