Sometimes We Have to Dig Deep for Thanks

EWBrownwelcome

Sometimes We Have to Dig Deep for Thanks

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever!” (Psalm 118)

thankslonelyPerhaps you aren’t feeling very Thankful today. The losses have piled up one after another — health, relationships, financial security, dreams — and you really wish everyone would just quit asking you to list what you are thankful for…

Some people call this “Turkey Day” but that would be limiting. It is called Thanksgiving to prompt us to dig deep enough to find something which offers hope and promise. When I am in these hard places, I find it helpful to focus my soul on these two things:

1. Remember that GOD is the One we thank.

thanksgodGod is the One we thank because He loves us more than we can possibly imagine. He has our back. Knowing that we are created, loved and sustained by a merciful and gracious God is the ultimate reason for giving thanks.

          “It is a good Thanksgiving because we have Someone to thank Who loves us, Who shows Himself to us in the dark and Who is in control of the mess. Some of us will have more ‘stuff’ than others. Some will be going through some rough waters and some will be sailing through the calm between the storms. Some will be facing emotional or physical pain, loss of a loved one or the prospect of great failure, while others will be sitting on top of the world. Those aren’t even the issues though. The issue is GOD. Run to Him. Thanksgiving will be natural.” (Steve Brown)

2. Make a CHOICE to live in Gratitude, no matter what.

thankspersonSo, I can either complain and whine about the direction life has taken me— the detour in the road, the closed door, the seemingly impossible challenge — or I can believe that nothing is too hard for God-with-us (that is Emmanuel, one of the names of Jesus). Maybe your situation is darker this year than last, but if you know God as the Great Provider, you can choose to declare:

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails  and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength…” (Habakkuk 3.17-19)

I’m grateful for parents who taught me early on that Thanksgiving is actually a way of life. Recently I discovered a small piece of paper with a long childhood list — my ‘ticket’ to Thanksgiving dinner…

cindydogs

Thankful Girl – Cindy with 3 dogs!

My Thankful List 1965

(misspellings are original, italics are updated notes)

“Food: Turkey, Ice Cream, Spagetti

Shelter: Brookside (our farm in the country), Pinecrest (our house in town), Treehouse (mine!)

Family: Mama, Daddy, Susan, Cathy

Pets: Friskey, Rusty, Animals (Frisky, Rusty and Polka Dot are pictured right with me)

School: Education, Teachers, Materials

Clothes: Slacks, Skirts, Dresses, Shoes (old), Jeans

House: Kitchen, My Room,

thanksplateGovement: Free Country, Leaders, Democracy, President (even though he is Mr. Johnson), White House, Capital, Heroes, Republicans

Senses: Hearing, Seeing, Tasting, Feeling, Smelling

Workers: Fireman, Doctors, Nurses, Pulpwood Dealers (this is what my daddy did at the time), City Workers, Farmers, Radiomen

Transportation: Bycicle, Automobiles, Airplane, Train, Jet, Rockets

thankshandsChristen Life: Church, Music, Preacher, Deacons, Elders, Missionaries

Movie Stars: Hayley Mills, Kevin Corcoran, Doris Day, Peter McEnery

Machines: Television, Radio, Intercom

Keystone Camp!

Nature: Birds, Trees, Plants, Animals, Music, Smell, Wonders

And that is just a little bit of what I’m thankful for.”                                                                                              Cindy Secrest, Thanksgiving 1965

thankslistIf I could just sit down and write out 70 things on my thankful list (in categories, no less) back when I had only lived a few years, then surely I can think of at least ONE today.

What is one thing you can Thank God for today? Even in the pain, even in the loneliness, even in the uncertainty. Now breathe it out or write it out. Good for you.

under the mercy, Cindy

©2014 Lucinda Secrest McDowell

www.EncouragingWords.net

NOTE: Did you enjoy this blog? If so, would you consider entering your email in the above right form and subscribing to it by email? I assure you I won’t overload your in-box, but would love to send you these ‘encouraging words’ each Wednesday. Thanks!

Posted in 1 | Leave a comment

“Heaven Is Going to Be Wonderful, You Know?”

 “Heaven Is Going to Be Wonderful,

You Know?”

Lucinda Secrest McDowell

sharing words from Dr. Stephen A. Hayner

stevesharol

Steve and Sharol Hayner (copyrighted 2011 Coenraad Brand Photography )

LSM Note: Our dear friend, Steve Hayner, president of Columbia Theological Seminary (and former president of InterVarsity, dean at Seattle Pacific University and pastor at University Presbyterian in Seattle) and his wife Sharol live in Atlanta. Steve officiated at Inka’s Seattle memorial service back in 1981 (Mike’s late wife) and also preached our own wedding sermon in Menlo Park CA in 1984. Our daughter Fiona and their daughter Emilie were in pre-school playgroup together in Seattle and Sharol greatly helped me to transition into motherhood during those days…

Recently World Vision asked Steve to share a devotion on his life perspective amidst terminal cancer. As we enter a season of Thanksgiving, I wanted to share his words with you (with Steve’s gracious permission of course)- in Thanksgiving for the life and reach of Steve Hayner, and also the amazing presence and power of God. 

hayners

Hayners with their Grands earlier this year

STEVE HAYNER:           “Over the last six months my life has completely changed.  I haven’t been able to go back to my former job. I have had several surgical procedures, and I’m on a chemo-therapy every two weeks. On the weeks that I don’t have chemo, I currently feel pretty good and am able to carry on with a good schedule that includes time with people and projects.  But I don’t know how long any of this will last, and I seldom know from day to day how much I can plan to do.  The only certainty that I have related to this world is that someday, sooner than I had planned, I will go home to be with Jesus.

Facing death has a way of clarifying life.  So let me tell you a few things that I’ve learned in the lasts months.

1.     When Jesus is all you have, you soon discover that Jesus is all you really need. One of the creeds of my denomination opens with the phrase, “In life and in death we belong to God.” God created us …Jesus has redeemed us … and the Spirit transforms and gifts us for life everyday. It is Christ who gives us meaning, purpose, worth, and security.  We look for these things in a variety of places: in our families, in our jobs, in our churches, in our convictions, in our health, or wherever we think it can be found. But only in Jesus will we find Life with a capital “L”–abundant Life which we experience now and will last forever.  I’m in the process of losing everything that I have known on this earth, but I will never lose what God has given me in Christ.

2.     As long as I have life on this earth, I have a call.  God has given me work to do and continues to give me work to do.  Over my lifetime I have had many roles to play and many jobs to fulfill.  But it is not the particulars of being a husband, a father, a grandfather, a friend, a seminary president, a World Vision board member, or anything else that ultimately matters so much as the underlying call to be faithful. God has called me to follow Jesus in everything I do: to love the way Jesus loved; to listen to the Holy Spirit’s promptings; and to be obedient to God’s commands. Every day no matter how sick I become, I still have a call.

3.     God will never give up in his work to transform me into the likeness of Jesus.  I fail every day at being and doing what God has intended. But God has promised to use everything in my life to continue the process of helping me to become more like Jesus in my thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors. At this stage in my life God is using my disease to teach me. It’s not easy and I don’t like to change.  But God loves me too much to give up on me. Therefore, God uses my circumstances, whatever they are, to continue the process of transformation.

stevehaynerbanquet

Columbia Seminary Event celebrating President Steve Hayner

4.     Joy is not about my circumstances, but rather about being held and sustained by God’s love.  Nothing can ever separate us from the love of God–not suffering, not want, not abundance, not sin, not anything.  God loves us from beginning to end and through every circumstance. If there is one thing that I can trust, it is God’s love for me in Christ Jesus.

There is nothing new about any of these lessons.  But God continues to remind me. And I continue to be grateful for every reminder. On Halloween an unexpected reminder came from a trick-or-treater, who was about 8 years old and was dressed like a little sheep. Surrounded by a flock of siblings, who were also dressed as sheep, he blurted out that they knew I was sick and were all praying for me.  “Thank you,” I replied.  And then with big sincere eyes, he looked at me, smiled and said, “Heaven is going to be wonderful, you know?” All I could think to say was, “It already is.”

May God continue to bless, encourage, sustain, and energize you for your call, too. Who you are in Christ and what you are becoming really matters in this world—as well as the next.”

- Steve Hayner, November 11, 2014

celticsunrisecross

“It already is….”

How will these 4 statements affect the way you and I LIVE today? I hope you will join me in continued prayer for Steve and Sharol Hayner and their family.

“Teach us to number our days,

that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90.12

under the mercy, Cindy

stevehandsTo read or write tributes to Steve Hayner,

go to www.ThanksToYouSteve.com

 ©2014 Stephen A. Hayner

EncouragingWords.net 

 NOTE: Did you enjoy this blog? If so, would you consider entering your email in the above right form and subscribing to it by email? I assure you I won’t overload your in-box, but would love to send you these ‘encouraging words’ each Wednesday. Thanks!

Posted in 1 | 1 Comment

Honest Letter to a November Bride

 Honest Letter to a November Bride

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell

Dearest one,

Only 10 days until your wedding – Woo Hoo! Our entire family is thrilled to join you both for this momentous celebration and I rejoice that God has brought you together for a lifetime of marriage. What a rich heritage you have — grandparents married 62 years and your own parents for 37 (and counting.)

?????????Marriage is a huge Gift.

It is also extremely difficult at times.

May I be perfectly honest? Will you allow an older woman who loves you to share how I have experienced God’s faithfulness since I made those vows more than 30 years ago?

I’ll begin by confessing that I wasn’t sure we would make it to our 10th wedding anniversary…

Marriage had been challenging from the get-go. Of course there were perfectly good reasons why this was so, but that didn’t lessen my subtle feelings of failure to discover the ‘key’ to this mystery. We loved each other, loved our four children, and had made a covenant to one another and God, in front of witnesses ‘til death do us part.’

briderachcodySo every day became a decision to do what God said – “Love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” I Peter 4.8

We already had that whole ‘multitude of sins’ thing covered because there was no doubt that each of us had married a sinner. But it was the pro-active verb – to love – that was the deciding factor.

We had to choose to act on our commitment, whether we felt like it or not.

Hon, having just celebrated our 30th anniversary, I can honestly say that I have never loved Mike more deeply than I do now. Deep, as in soul-level. We continue to grow into the very people that we vowed so long ago to encourage each other to become (and y’all will too!) But life has certainly sanded off a lot of rough edges in the process…

brideunitycandleDear one, I want all good things for you and your groom! My prayer is that you won’t have to go through any struggles or challenges along the way to your own 30th anniversary.

But I realize that may be unrealistic, considering the ‘consumer mindset’ of today’s culture.  Too many people these days look at marriage as more of a ‘contract’ (I will love you as long as you fulfill the need I have right now, but when you can’t, I’m out of here) than a ‘covenant’ (My love for you is a binding relationship of love and commitment which takes precedence over my changing needs and desires). 

bridecovenantFrankly, sometimes it takes a lifetime to make it to that ‘deep’ kind of loving. It’s not the same as the love we felt on our wedding day. It is a love that ‘covers’ the inevitable times when our spouse may disappoint us.

What do we do if there are days when feelings of affection and delight cannot be sustained?

 brideholdhandscomputer“When that happens you must remember that the essence of a marriage is that it is a covenant, a commitment, a promise of future love. So what do you do? You do the acts of love, despite your lack of feeling. You may not feel tender, sympathetic, and eager to please, but in your actions you must be tender, understanding, forgiving, and helpful. And, if you do that, as time goes on you will not only get through the dry spells, but you will become more constant in your feelings. This is what can happen if you decide to love.”    (Tim & Kathy Keller in The Meaning of Marriage)

God makes a covenant with us and we, in turn, make covenants with one another. In my wedding bulletin is the scripture Mike and I claimed on that special day – a reminder of God’s lasting covenant. brideringheartbibleThey will be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear Me for their own good and the good of their children after them. I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them…I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all My heart and soul.” Jeremiah 32.38-41 *

God has kept those promises to us and our family.

brideredshoesEven as I continue to love deeply  (some days successfully, other days not so much), I rejoice in the great privilege and joy that is Marriage. I also pray that you two will experience this same joy in the days ahead.

I will be seeing you soon at The Wedding. I will be the one dancing the wildest and hooting the loudest as you become Mr. and Mrs. — a true cause for Rejoicing!

with all my love,  Cindy

 ©2014 Lucinda Secrest McDowell  EncouragingWords.net

*selected from Day 39 in “Live These Words” by Lucinda Secrest McDowell ©2014

 NOTE: Did you enjoy this blog? If so, would you consider entering your email in the above right form and subscribing to it by email? I assure you I won’t overload your in-box, but would love to send you these ‘encouraging words’ each Wednesday. Thanks!

Posted in 1 | 6 Comments

Two Simple Words

 Two Simple Words

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell

2wordsgroup“Thank you.”

Simple words. When I was a child, they were the twin to another magic word – “Please”.

“Thank you.”

Sometimes mumbled as an afterthought. Occasionally shouted and accompanied by a bear hug. Always appropriate.

“Thank you.”

Five orange pumpkins sit in a row in front of a distressed, wooden background.Important words. Because they acknowledge that we know we have been the unworthy recipient of something good and true. Something unexpected or especially helpful.

And we are Grateful.

It’s November. And people seem more inclined to start making a list of things for which they are thankful. Sometimes that’s the ‘ticket’ for Thanksgiving Dinner (it was for me – click to read my childhood list of “70 Reasons to Thank God”)

silhouette of woman with open arms at sunsetBut what about the other 364 days of the year? The other 11 months?

Why not say Thank You every single day?  Twice?

  1. To GOD – the Giver of all.
  2. To Someone else.

Who touched your life with kindness or encouragement?  With a gift or a timely word? Perhaps long ago (a teacher? your mama?) or even today (a colleague? or helpful store clerk?).

2wordsgratitudeI want Gratitude to be my lifestyle — my ‘daily default.’ I believe we can train ourselves to be people who awaken with these words on our lips, “Good Morning, God,” rather than the grumble “Good God, it’s morning…”

Back around the time my New England church was gathered (1635) poet George Herbert captured beautifully what it means to live a life of constant praise.

“Thou that hast given so much to me,

Give one thing more, a grateful heart…

Not thankful when it pleaseth me;

As if Thy blessings had spare days:

But such a heart whose pulse may be

Thy praise.” - George Herbert*

I want a Grateful heart. Every day. Not just in November. And not just on Thanksgiving.

I want my very pulse to be praise. How about you?

2wordslistSo, here’s an idea. Every day (starting today through Christmas Day which is the next 55 days) let’s record 2 Thanks:

Date________________

  1. Thank you, God, for _____________________.

  2. Thank you, ______(name) for _________________.

While we can talk to God anytime in prayer and give Him thanks, I’m suggesting you keep a written list. And the caveat for #2 is that you have to actually THANK the person verbally either face-to-face or in a voicemail, text, note, letter, postcard, social media or skywriting.

Okay, I’ll go first:

2wordscoffeeNovember 5, 2014:

  1. Thank you, God, for physical and mental strength to go teach high schoolers today.
  2. Thank you, Lori, for walking with me through a ‘professional glitch’ a few years ago. (I will tell her this in person when we meet for coffee this afternoon.)

See — we can do this! Hey, it’s not rocket science, it’s just taking time to notice God’s blessings and to acknowledge what others have done.

Not feeling particularly thankful today? I get it. Life is hard. Sometimes we have to dig deep to find something praiseworthy in our current situation. Living in gratitude is making a choice to thank God ‘anyway’ however He chooses to resolve difficulties.2wordspigletbetter

We are not negating the fact that while there is so much happening that is good, pain and suffering are all around us. Our gratitude does not ignore the struggles, but chooses to thank God for His presence in the middle of them, for His power to help us live as overcomers, and for His purposes that will be revealed as a result of our perseverance. *

If we do this every day, our thanks-giving will bless others (as they realize we remember their efforts) and will also strengthen us as we walk through the busy holiday season!

“Thank you.”

Two simple words.

2wordslanguagesWhen I am on the receiving end, they flood my soul with joy. I realize that what I did or said or gave truly did make a difference in someone’s life.

When I am the one who offers those words (whether to God or another person), I experience renewed hope and purpose, recognizing that I am most blessed.

“Thank you.”

Two powerful words.

“The magic of words is that they have power

to do more than convey meaning;

Not only do they have the power to make things clear,

they make things happen.” – Frederich Buechner

2wordsbumper

This is the bumper sticker on the Suburban I drove for 18 years…

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever.” Psalm 136.1

Start counting…

under the mercy, Cindy

 ©2014 Lucinda Secrest McDowell  EncouragingWords.net

*selected from Day 11 in “Live These Words” by Lucinda Secrest McDowell ©2014

click to read my childhood list of “70 Reasons to Thank God”

buechnermagicofwords  NOTE: Did you enjoy this blog? If so, would you consider entering your email in the above right form and subscribing to it by email? I assure you I won’t overload your in-box, but would love to send you these ‘encouraging words’ each Wednesday. Thanks!

 

 

 

Posted in 1 | Leave a comment

“In My Life, I’ve Loved Them All”

“In My Life, I’ve Loved Them All”

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell

fubelltowerI only learned a few things during my four years at Furman University:

  • how to read critically
  • believe radically
  • write creatively
  • think deeply
  • share intimately
  • celebrate spontaneously
  • help compassionately
  • dwell communally
  • explore courageously

I only learned how to embrace life and pursue my dreams.

Nothing big.

Only everything that matters when you’ve just turned 21.

And you’re driving out the gate into the Real World with a diploma in your hand and an editorial job at Carolina Country magazine!

Furman Camping Friends 1974 001

Just a few of the folk who thought we could change the world — including yours truly on front row…

I wanted to change the world. As did my best friends.

Perhaps we did. Time will tell…

“There are places I remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain…”

It’s not surprising that Lennon and McCartney’s lyrics to “In My Life” perfectly capture my feelings after a whole weekend college reunion with the friends of my youth.

fu6byfireplace

Polly, Connie, Sheryl, Beth, Cindy, Susan

Why not return? Why not revisit? Knowing how I prefer one-to-one conversation as opposed to mass crowds, I helped gather a few close friends a day in advance to regroup in the mountains that had been the setting for our countless camping trips…

We had all lived our lives focused on a variety of vocations and locations. Yet the years melted away as we shared. Connie said that it was easy because we had been close and vulnerable so long ago. I remember wishing back then that community would never end.

fulettersBeth’s reunion gift was a bundle of my letters to her when I was ages 18-23. Extensive and detailed – these were the musings and wonder of a young woman navigating the delicate dance from youth to adulthood during a turbulent and changing time.

(1974 Cindy to Beth) “I think I realize now more than ever before the stark reality of our parting and separate ventures. I try to view all this with courage. Course, that’s just a matter of maturity into life itself. But I’m also seeing more than a mere physical separation – pursuits are branching out. Last night (amidst those hallowed few who are so dear to me) I became quite melancholy, wondering how long the ties would last.”

fuglojanneys

Gloria, Cindy, Syd, Don

 The ties lasted. (Remember, two of of those things I learned during college were how to “share intimately” and “dwell communally”.) The very names that filled those letters were the same people with whom I was gathered this weekend. And the years and angst all melted away…

“All these places had their moments
With lovers and friends
I still can recall…”

fumacplay

Dave, Mac, Russ

I hugged everyone. I rejoiced that we were all in one place because we were survivors. We had taken the world by storm, all suffered a few blows, yet emerged limping and laughing to stand arm in arm and sing sweet baby James’ “You’ve Got A Friend” while Mac, Russ and Dave played guitar, harmonica and washboard.

fualbertyoung

New professor Dr. Albert Blackwell and man with a frog in his hand….

 There were also things I needed to say to some folk. Like my professor Dr. Albert Blackwell, now retired professor emeritus. And what a treasure that afternoon was as we sat in lawn chairs overlooking the campus and mountain escarpment and shared a lifetime of discoveries. I thanked him for being my first Renaissance man. For ‘setting the bar high’ for me in knowing what and who I wanted in life. For teaching me that faith is both believing and doing. That we are to love God with all our minds, hearts and souls. And that there is great beauty in the world of nature, literature, music, art, and humans.

albert

Albert and Cindy

When we dropped by his home to greet Marian, I saw the Schleiermacher bust, the well-loved piano and volumes of books. Their children I babysat for are now a classics professor at Furman and an administrator and musician at Harvard.  They spoke of community involvement, playing in senior orchestras, teaching adult classes, writing new books, and pouring into the lives of young people. And I realized “I still want to be like them when I grow up.” But maybe, just maybe – by God’s grace – I am sort of  like them already…

fucindychris

Cindy and Chris in Kentucky

“Some are dead and some are living
In my life I’ve loved them all…”

My roommate Chris was brilliant and beautiful – our valedictorian. She died far too young – at 29. I must admit, it was hard to be on campus without her, but I am grateful her baby girl survived that accident and later also graduated from Furman.

fubooksigning

Alumni Author Booksigning

Most of all, this weekend we celebrated. We laughed. We hugged. We guffawed at the fabulous 40 minute slideshow of our days of bell-bottoms and long stringy hair (both the guys and the gals, I might add). We shared current family photos and old “remember whens”. We did not exclude. We did not critique. We were all one. Because we had started off together and helped launch each other out into a world to live our unique Stories…

“Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more…”

fusobysgroupbar

Connie, Vickie, Judy, Susan, Beth, Ann, Cindy, Beverly

My own life of writing, speaking, ministry, raising four children and 30 years of marriage to an incredible man has been far too full to return to Furman with any sort of regularity. (Imagine, being an English major who got to spend her whole life telling stories – dreams do come true) But I will always be eternally grateful that I was able to attend my 40th reunion. It was a reminder to keep going. To keep relearning all those lessons, even as I enter a new season of life.

Furman University Class of ’74, you Rock! Whether or not we changed THE world perhaps is not so important. For I know we changed OUR worlds.

May we continue to do so…

“Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’

We are not now that strength which in old days

Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;

One equal temper of heroic hearts,

Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

- Tennyson, “Ulysses” 

fucindyfurmancollage

“To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield…” Lucinda Secrest McDowell 1970 and 2014 – Furman University

under the mercy, Cindy

Click to LISTEN to Judy Collins sing this song “In My Life” – live 1966

©2014 Lucinda Secrest McDowell  EncouragingWords.net

Thanks to Eric Berg and Vickie Dayhood and Shelley Smith Hobson and Cindy Windham Duryea and Connie Crowe Jones for sharing your reunion photos with me  — I stole some for this blog!

 NOTE: Did you enjoy this blog? If so, would you consider entering your email in the above right form and subscribing to it by email? I assure you I won’t overload your in-box, but would love to send you these ‘encouraging words’ each Wednesday. Thanks!

Posted in 1 | 4 Comments

Oh, How I Love What These Authors Told Me

 Oh, How I Love What These Authors Told Me

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell

bookstilllife I did not get much writing done. On my Writers Retreat. But that’s okay, because, after all, I was one of the directors of the whole event. And speaking faculty.

What I did do was to offer words that might encourage others to write. And it is my prayer that they did just that. Frederick Buechner once said, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” For me, that is through “Encouraging Words.”

Today I want to offer you some of the words that have most encouraged me — to keep writing…

quotecomput4erAnd the Lord said to me “Write My answer on a billboard, large and clear, so that anyone can read it at a glance and rush to tell others. But these things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue a single day.” Habakkuk 2.2-3 TLB

necwrprofile“Your authenticity does not depend on proving to people or to God with pitches, paints or pen – that you really are quite a piece of work. Rather, I pray that you are discovering that your authenticity lies in who you are constantly becoming in Christ, and that you make art because you cannot keep yourself from the simple joy of shaping something as best you can and then pouring it over Jesus’ feet. The only reason for doing our very best, despite any cost, is the infinite worth of Jesus, for making art this way is where authenticity lies…The best artists begin by being influenced and end up influencing.”  - Michael Card in “Scribbling in the Sand”

quotesscrabblewriting“May God grant us courage to face the truth as we perceive it and to take whatever risks may be necessary to state it. We may be mistaken, but it is infinitely better to be mistaken than to bluff. We may be ignorant, but the admission of ignorance has sometimes cleared the way for the statement of truth. The reader recognizes common ground with the writer and is more likely to receive the message. None of us is big enough to contemplate, let alone to write, the whole truth! For God Himself is Truth. What we see of it or of Him at any given moment is what we are responsible to reproduce.”     - Elisabeth Elliot on Writing (1970s)

“You must once and for all give up being worried about successes and failures. Don’t let that concern you. It’s your duty to go on working steadily day by day, quite quietly, and to be prepared for mistakes, which are inevitable, and for failures.”   – Anton Chekov’s Letters

Senior lady writing“Here I am, an old woman already. I always thought I had a book in me. Every year I told myself ‘Next year you’ll write a book.’ The years came and went. It always seemed like next year I’d start on it, but I never did – and I’ve had a whole century. If you have a book inside you, sit down and get it written. It’s not a matter of having the time. If you want to do something badly enough, you do it.  Now my hands are twisted up with arthritis, and I can’t see beyond the end of my nose. See? I have time, but I can’t do it.”    – Matilda Johnson, age 101

“Every word You give me is a miracle word – how could I help but obey? Break open Your words, let the light shine out, let ordinary people see the meaning.” Psalm 119.129-130 MSG

quotecrumpledpaper“You are going to have to give and give and give or there’s no reason for you to be writing. You have to give from the deepest part of yourself, and you are going to have to go on giving, and the giving is going to have to be its own reward. There is no cosmic importance to your getting something published, but there is in learning to be a giver.”   - Anne Lamott in “Bird by Bird”

“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll have what you’ve always had. But if you want what you’ve never had, you must do what you’ve never done. In other words, we must be willing to make the changes necessary to reach our designated goals, even if it moves us out of our comfort zones and launches us into uncharted territory.”   – unknown

quotesonceupon“Be strong and courageous and get to work! Don’t be frightened by the size of the task, for the Lord my God is with you – He will not forsake you. He will see to it that everything is finished correctly.” I Chronicles 28.20 TLB

“I’d delight if none of my words fell to the ground – if none were useless, excessive, dispensable, easily dismissed… But that’s God’s business. He might use the means of cyber technology, savvy marketing, good publicity. But either God, God alone, keeps our words from falling and scatters them wide, or else there is nothing in them worth keeping and scattering in the first place. Our concern, our responsibility, is simply to hear and heed God. It is always and everywhere to say, Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening.”   – Mark Buchanan in “The Rest of God”

So… even though I’m crazy busy this week and off to another adventure in another state, I heard and heeded God. I wrote this down. For you. Today.

under the mercy, Cindy

man writing a contract“When the question comes, ‘Are you still writing?’ I hope your answer will always be, ‘Of course I am writing. I am a writer.’  Tomorrow the sun will rise, God willing, and it will be time again for us to go to our tables. It will be time to pick up the pen or turn on the machine… There are stories that must be told and must be heard, stories waiting on you and me to do the telling. Tomorrow we will write, write and not waste time. We will make dark marks on the page, the gift to which we have been given, the gift that has been given to us. Tomorrow we will go dancing again. Dancing on the head of a pen.” – Robert Benson in “Dancing on the Head of a Pen”

necwr16collageYou might enjoy last week’s blog “The Day I Decided to Keep Writing”

 ©2014 Lucinda Secrest McDowell  EncouragingWords.net

 NOTE: Did you enjoy this blog? If so, would you consider entering your email in the above right form and subscribing to it by email? I assure you I won’t overload your in-box, but would love to send you these ‘encouraging words’ each Wednesday. Thanks!

Posted in 1 | 3 Comments

The Day I Decided to Keep Writing

 The Day I Decided to Keep Writing

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell

auumnleavestypewriter“I’m not impressed and won’t be sending this manuscript to any publisher. Honestly, no one wants this book, so you may as well start over on something else,” my literary agent said during our appointment at the annual booksellers convention.

I was shattered.

I knew about rejections. I had begun my career writing for magazines and had thick files of rejection letters which had only spurred me on to try the next publisher. But now, as an established book author, I was discouraged. Why not just quit? It’s not like anyone would miss a book I haven’t even written!

writingairportYet, I had always tried to live the words “Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust Him, and He will help you.” (Psalm 37.5) So, as I trudged through the airport in the wee hours of the next morning I silently offered all my writing back to God – praying for guidance and provision.

I even managed to be friendly to the weary traveler in the next chair. Even before I found out she was an editor at a large publishing house.

“I’m just curious, as you leave the convention, was there one book idea you had hoped to find from an author?” I said in my most timid manner.

books-and-tea“Well, my boss was interested in something that addresses the whole baby-boomers-reaching-middle-age idea. We think that might find a good audience,” she replied.

Did I hear her correctly? Had she really just regretted not being offered something on the very subject of the book proposal now gathering dust in my briefcase?

“Uh, well, I happen to have a book proposal on that very subject. Would you be willing to look it over and see if it might fit your needs?” I stammered.

30 ways cover The startled editor graciously took my manuscript. One year later that new book was published. (find out more about this book “30 Ways to Embrace Life – Wise Women Share Their Secrets”)

From absolute rejection to acceptance in a series of events that could only have been orchestrated by God!

What does it mean to commit everything we do to the Lord?

This simple act of relinquishment means to entrust or put in charge. It also involves the harder internal process of being willing to accept a possible ‘no’ or being redirected on a different path.

launchstorymattersI often think back to that very low point in my writing career.

What if I had continued to pout and retreat to a corner seat, ignoring everyone around me? What if I had simply taken my agent’s advice or stopped writing?

Instead, I chose to prayerfully continue to commit everything to God – the One who called me to write in the first place – and know that He would indeed help me. Life is too short to invest in work that doesn’t have God’s hand all over it. Can I truly surrender all to Him?

launchroundtoptypewriterThat’s the place where He wants me to be.

Lord, I believe in You: increase my faith. I trust in You: strengthen my trust. I love You: let me love You more and more… Guide me by Your wisdom, correct me with Your justice, comfort me with Your mercy, protect me with Your power.  I offer You, Lord, my thoughts: to be fixed on You; my words: to have You for their theme; my actions: to reflect my love for You…. I want to do what You ask of me: in the way You ask, for as long as You ask, because You ask it. Amen.” (Clement  95 AD) *

bensonwriterquote

under the mercy, Cindy

writerbewriting*selected from Day 17 in “Live These Words” by Lucinda Secrest McDowell ©2014

 ©2014 Lucinda Secrest McDowell  EncouragingWords.net

 NOTE: Did you enjoy this blog? If so, would you consider entering your email in the above right form and subscribing to it by email? I assure you I won’t overload your in-box, but would love to send you these ‘encouraging words’ each Wednesday. Thanks!

Posted in 1 | 5 Comments