Doing Nothing in Nothing but a Robe

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Doing Nothing in Nothing but a Robe

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell

“He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.” —Psalm 23.2,3 NIV

Relaxing in jacuzziA few years ago I went to my first Spa. Oh my! This was during the writing of my book “Spa for the Soul.” I called it ‘research’. Of course, I have had to update my ‘research’ every year since the publication of that book.

At least that’s what I tell myself.

The truth is, I love being pampered at a Spa. And honey, we have a great one here in Connecticut that offers a fall discount package. So my three other ‘birthday buddies’ and I book it every year – girl bonding and low-key celebrating.  (And of course the Spa thinks all of our birthdays are in September/October because that’s when we receive our coupons.)spasash

Yesterday was The Day. To spend all day walking around a public place with nothing on but a white terry cloth robe. Well, at least everyone else was dressed the same way. I can’t tell you how many times I cinched my sash tightly. Just in case…

Now before you get all jealous of me, let me assure you that I deserved every single pampering minute. And so do you, actually. Whether or not we are fortunate enough to be given gift cards to a Spa, we are all made for the kind of rest and serenity inherent to such a time and place.

Did you know that SPA is a word that is actually an acronym for three Latin words  — Salus Per Aquam, which mean “health by water?” (see, I did actually do some ‘research’) While water is the genesis of this term, health is an integral ingredient. Any true Spa will focus on improving your health — physically, emotionally, mentally and yes, spiritually.

Modern Spas have their roots in the ancient towns once known for the healing powers of their mineral waters and hot springs. People would come from far away to “take the waters” and restore their health. In the Bible, the Pool of Bethesda was such a Spa and believed to be a source of healing when the waters were stirred. That’s why the lame man had lain by that pool for 38 years, hoping to ‘take the waters.’

spawaterhandsOver and over again we find in God’s Word refreshment for our soul thirst when we cry out like the psalmist, “God, You are my God; I eagerly seek You. I thirst for You; my body faints for You in a land that is dry, desolate, and without water.” Psalm 63.1

Are you in the middle of a desert place right now? Do you have a dehydrated heart?

When our bodies lack water they give off symptoms such as dry mouth, headaches or weak knees. But what are the indicators that our souls are deprived of spiritual water? “Dehydrated hearts send desperate messages. Snarling tempers. Waves of worry. Hopelessness. Sleeplessness. Loneliness. Resentment. Irritability. Insecurity. These are warnings. Symptoms of a dryness deep within.” (Max Lucado in “Come Thirsty”)

What is needed is ‘health by water’ — a SPA for our souls! (now that would make a great book title…) And it must come from the Source of living water — Jesus Christ! He wants to offer you a transformational Spa so that you, too, might be able to say,  “He turns a desert into a pool of water, dry land into springs of water.” Psalm 107.35

Aroma TherapyGod has made each of us in His image — body and soul. When we neglect one part, the other suffers. I have learned this the hard way. There have been seasons in my life when I focused on the spiritual, while unwittingly neglecting my physical health. There have been other seasons when the outward seemed to get more attention from me than the inward. Either way, our life becomes out of balance and must be restored.

Friend, it really is okay to rest. To linger “beside still waters” so that our Good Shepherd can “restore my soul.” Whether you do it at a Spa or beside a stream, doesn’t really matter.

What matters is that you take time away from the demands of the world, and focus on body and soul, possibly even surrounded by a few supportive friends.

spafeet

Here we are in our robes…

“But when your soul is at rest it occupies the throne of your life.Your will is undivided and obeys God with joy. Your mind has thoughts of truth and beauty. You desire what is wholesome and good. Your body is   filled with appetites that serve the good and with habits that lead you into excellent living. To remain healthy, our souls need solitude with no agenda, no distractions, no noise. If someone asks you what you did in your ‘time apart’ the correct response should be ‘Nothing.’ Doing nothing does wonders for the soul.”                                           – John Ortberg in “Soul Keeping”

            Yesterday I did nothing.     Ahhhh….

under the mercy, Cindy

“Come everyone who is thirsty. Come to the waters… Seek the Lord while He may be found. Call to Him while He is near.” – Isaiah 55.1,6

 cometothewaters

spacoversmall

©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!

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Are You Too Weary to Climb that Mountain?

 Are You Too Weary to

Climb that Mountain?

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell

“How much farther to the top?” I panted to my hiking companions. My Furman friends and I loved to spend weekends climbing in the Great Smokey Mountains, but I inevitably seemed to drift into that unenviable position of ‘bringing up the rear.’

“Not too far, Secrest. You can make it. Keep going,” one of them yelled down.

climbpacker I turned and leaned my backpack against the incline, gazing at the autumn palette of color vividly displayed on the valley below. How could the view higher up be any better than this?

“Look y’all! Turn around. From here it looks like the top to me! Couldn’t we just pretend we‘re already at the summit?” I pleaded.

Desperate for a rest, I was quite willing to accept this partial view as a reward for our day’s climb.

If I had, I would have missed so much.

climbpeak

Me on the Peak!!!

A grander panorama of beauty awaited me at the peak. A celebration of friends reaching the top together. A feeling of accomplishment for having completed the journey.

To this day, old college friends still tease me, “Remember, Secrest, ‘Looks like the top to me!’” they laugh.

But actually it’s a sobering thought to think that I almost gave up before reaching the summit.

What they did was to encourage me – to keep going. They fleshed out that word that means to ‘inspire courage’ in another person, often to take important and meaningful steps.

And I’m not just talking about climbing mountains.

climbencourageHave you ever been too weary to keep climbing? Are you desperate for someone to call out to you with encouragement?

Knowing how much I need verbal support, I determined early in life that I would  “encourage each other and build each other up.” (I Thessalonians 5.11)

The Greek verb here is parakaleo, which means ‘to encourage or comfort, to come alongside, to beseech.’ It appears in the imperative and is a continually commanded action – keep on encouraging.

Words are powerful tools. They can crush. They can build up.

Perhaps the best words of encouragement any of us will ever hear remind us we are truly loved — “God loves you.”

climbgroup

My companions for many mountain climbing adventures – dear friends, some of whom I will see at my Furman Reunion this fall – can’t wait! (I’m back row third from the right with a hat on)

“In our competitive workplaces, schools and world, we won’t hear much talk about love. These are the places where the language of being the beloved competes with the language of earned acceptance. Our various communities — healthy families; safe friendships; churches — are where we look forward to being accepted, embraced, touched and recognized for who we are.” (Henri Nouwen)

But there is no way we can encourage someone unless we are in relationship and aware of their struggles, challenges and feelings. We need to be involved and to listen actively and yes, even to sometimes ask the hard questions.

climbtop C.S. Lewis once said that “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.’” Sharing words of encouragement shows others they are not alone.

When was the last time you had that “You too?” moment?

I’m so thankful my friends cheered me to the top of that mountain so long ago. And I’m also grateful for other voices through the years that have believed in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself. Those who took action and reached down to lift me up when I fell.

climbpuppy

“Secrest” climbing mountains with a friend. I’m pretty sure this is Lookout Mountain in Montreat NC mid-1970s

The softest voice that resonated the loudest was Jesus extending His grace to me – a gift I didn’t deserve and could never earn. When I finally opened that gift – truly received His grace — my whole life changed. Recognizing myself as the beloved, helped me to stop judging, stop performing, stop striving.

Sadly, I don’t always get it right.

Sometimes my words and actions discourage, instead of encourage, but God’s grace reminds me that there is always a second chance, to try again.

There is always an opportunity to turn around, face the mountain, and keep climbing.

Who will you encourage today?

under the mercy, Cindy (aka “Secrest” in college)

*selected from Day 37 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!

 

 

 

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What to Say When You’re Second Choice

 What to Say When You’re Second Choice

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell

Understudy. Replacement. Substitute. Interim.

Have you ever been called upon to take someone else’s place at the very last minute? Rarely convenient – always a stretch…

When we’re second choice, it’s easy to feel that our presence is possibly a mistake. And how humbling to learn that we were the one God intended to use all along.

At this time.

In this place.

planbchurchsnow~~~~~~~  John wasn’t a preacher. But as a deacon in the Primitive Methodist Chapel of Colchester, England he had a simple faith and a willing spirit.

Sometimes that’s all that is required.

On one particular January Sunday in 1850, John awakened to a world of white. Suspecting God didn’t take snow days, he put on his boots and trudged six miles into town for church.

Not surprisingly, the church crowd was sparse that day – twelve members and one visitor, a 13-year old boy. In fact, the preacher wasn’t even able to make it through the snow, so someone suggested they cancel the service. After all, who would give the sermon?

planbpewBeing the only church officer in attendance, John Egglen reluctantly agreed to do the honors, based on the scheduled text of Isaiah 45.22: “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else.”

But remember, he was no preacher.

In fact, he stammered and verbally wandered for about ten minutes until he fixed his eyes on the stranger, easily distinguished in the little company, and said, “Young man, you look very miserable.”

The blow struck home, and although the teenaged Charlie had never had such a personal word from the pulpit before, he listened intently.

John continued, “Young man, look to Jesus Christ! Look! Look! Look! You have nothin’ to do but to look and live.”  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

planbmespeak

Storyteller (photo by Brandon Stone)

I’m not a preacher either, but there have certainly been times when I have needed to step in and offer a good word. Recently I was called upon to “fill in” a 5-day speaking engagement, as a replacement for an older seminary professor who had become ill. While my natural response was to feel unworthy and unqualified, I chose to believe that this was no mistake.  To serve in that place. At that time.

I said “yes” and offered up my words ~ my stories. By God’s grace, that week ended up being one of incredible fruit and encouragement for all involved.

We never know where our words will land, do we? Canadian Pastor Mark Buchanan in his book The Rest of God  elaborates,

“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… 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.”

Where did John Egglen’s words land that snowy day so long ago? Did they make a difference?

planbspurgeonAs that teenage boy recalled years later, they most certainly did: “I had this vision—not a vision to my eyes, but to my heart. I saw what a Savior Christ was. . . . And as the snow fell on my road home from the little house of prayer I thought every snowflake talked with me and told of the pardon I had found, for I was white as the driven snow through the grace of God.”

That teenager’s name? Charles Haddon Spurgeon.planbchapel

Who grew up and became known as England’s “Prince of Preachers.”

What do you most remember after hearing a good message? Chances are, it’s the stories that take hold of your heart and provide a lasting influence.

Jesus was a storyteller. And our complicated and seemingly impossible lives also tell a story to a watching and listening world…

planbstoryWhat STORY does He want you to share? Why not spend some time preparing for your own snowy day?

And then say “yes” when you are summoned… you never know where your words will land.*

 “PROCLAIM the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching.” II Timothy 4.2 NRSV

 under the mercy, Cindy

*selected from Day 20 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!

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Why I Didn’t Survive High School

Why I Didn’t Survive High School

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell

Of course I always knew I left high school after my junior year and went straight to college at seventeen. I just couldn’t remember why

Until this week.

cheerleader

Lucinda Lee Secrest, age 15

I discovered one of my many childhood diaries and was shocked at the bleedings of my young teenaged heart, spilling out over pages filled with both Scripture and Rod McKuen poetry…

Though I seemed to ‘have it all’ (home, good grades, loving family) there were days I was desperately unhappy. The pages I wrote are filled with names and incidents of everyone in my small town who crossed my path.

And did or did not choose to linger.

My whole sense of identity and worth appears to have been based on whether or not ‘other people’ liked me, invited me to their parties, or spoke to me in the hall at school.

hsseventeengirlboyTalk about insecure.

Talk about self-absorbed.

Talk about pitiful.

I tried to fit in. But I’m afraid my ‘relational difficulties’ — bossiness, neediness, a judgmental spirit, I confess from my perspective now — pushed people away instead of drawing them closer. (Sadly, even now I sometimes come across to others in a way that is not uplifting, but inadvertently intense. I hate that.)

Stuck in the pages of my sophomore year diary is a poem I wrote but never shared with anyone. Even then I was searching for authenticity, but not knowing where to turn:

hsmeangirls“Some people live among ‘friends’ and are lonely,

‘friends’ are not friends, but acquaintances.

It’s a blow when you realize the ones you thought liked you…

didn’t.

You (and others) only adored them.

I’ve been lonely in the midst of friends.

I’ve been sad in the midst of happiness.

I cried while others lived.

No one calls. No one truly likes me.

But I won’t change for them!

I won’t become a stereotyped fake.

No, I won’t change.

But I also won’t be living when others are living,

I’ll just be existing.

hsmckuenbooksSurely somewhere there is someone who feels as I do.

My life is running away and I haven’t yet ‘lived.’

What can I do to keep from dying?

Yes, the ‘heart is a lonely hunter’.

It searches for someone to love and to be loved by.

It looks for meaning in life and for friends.

Not just ‘friends,’ but friends who listen and understand.

My heart wants something MORE

than false promises, false flattery – false confidence.

The heart is a lonely hunter.

When will it find?”

- Lucinda Lee Secrest, age 15

hsteengirlsI knew there was more… I wrote that so many times in my diary. I wanted to know myself but, more than that, I was desperate to know that my Creator loved me and had a Story for me to live.

That’s why I lingered long —  nose in books, pen in hand, ears to music, and mind to dreaming.

I didn’t survive high school simply because I hadn’t found Strength and Hope and my own true Identity through a relationship with Jesus as Lord. While He was my Savior, I had never bothered to dig deeper and discover the Truth and Power found in God’s Word.

My barometer for meaning was the ever shifting tide of current circumstances and other teens. Though I prayed occasionally, I was not yielding everything in my life to the Lover of my soul…

hstruckBut the “Hound of Heaven” was chasing after me. And I was running away, at least in my heart.

Christmas Eve — “I read some ‘Seventeen’ stories that weren’t any good and then I laid down on the bed and thought about moving away or running away. Somehow I feel that everything would be alright if I could just start over again at a new place. I love Mama and Daddy muchly but nobody gives a tinker’s damn about me. I’m not sure why but I’d like to know…”  later that same day…Mama let me drive the truck around the block and I loved her for it. It made me feel better.”

But God wouldn’t let me get away. Not just yet.

Woman at beach throwing her arms back behind her.I somehow made it through 10th grade. As a cheerleader. And I also made it through 11th grade, but midway discovered that I could actually get accepted at university using my junior SAT scores. So, after much agonizing (and great support on the part of my parents) I left high school and entered Furman University at the ripe age of seventeen. Hundreds of miles away from home. Knowing not one other person on campus. Ready for a fresh start.

And God met me there. He wooed me to Himself and literally changed my life.

Forty years later, He called me back to high school as a teacher. And I also bravely attended my first high school reunion and had a marvelous time…

Are you longing for more?

Are you a ‘depressed teenage cheerleader’ (of any age) who is fooling everyone else but can no longer keep up the mask? Are you enslaved to people-pleasing to the point that how you feel today is totally dependent on who ‘liked’ your Facebook post or how many people signed up for that Bible Study you are leading at church?

hsgirlcryingstepsOh dear friend, this is not the way to live! And you don’t have to anymore.

Know today that beyond the shadow of a doubt God loves you with an Everlasting Love and He longs to gather you with Lovingkindness (Jeremiah 31.3). You matter to Him. And He wants to shower you with His Grace — a pure gift. You and I can never be worthy enough for all He has for us – we can only choose to accept it as a Gift.

But we can be Thankful. And we can reach out to other “depressed teenage cheerleaders” and help lift them up and show them the way.

Gotta run. I’m heading out the door to spend my day at High School. Maybe I never survived my own years there, but perhaps in some small way God can use me today to encourage someone else to survive theirs….?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

 

My friend Allison Bottke’s new book “A Young Woman’s Guide to Setting Boundaries” asks young women such as I was “Are you able to accept the truth that you have precious worth in God’s eyes? … God’s love and your identity in Christ never change. But when you don’t know how much you are loved by God, you give yourself away to other things and people… Claiming your identity and understanding your value aren’t passive exercises, especially if you’re uncertain or confused about God’s plan and purpose for your life.  When you know your identity in Christ, you can find the strength and wisdom you need to be genuinely assertive, set healthy boundaries, and walk in ways that bring glory and honor to God. You are not likely to slide into negative self-talk or self-defeating habits when you truly know and believe that you are a daughter of the King with a divine birthright and an incomparable identity. Don’t miss the vision God has of you and the value He places on you!”

©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!

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How to P.R.E.P. for a Fabulous Fall!

 How to P.R.E.P. for a Fabulous Fall!

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell

fallsceneSummer 2014 is only a memory… Labor Day has come and gone! Whether you are back into the routine of filling backpacks and lunchboxes or at the stage of filling your calendar with work or volunteering, FALL can be a season of gratitude and fresh beginnings.

Since I juggle three jobs (writing, speaking and high school teaching) Fall is my serious kick-off-and-start-running time. May I recommend my own strategy for balancing life at this time of year? I call it P.R.E.P:

fallplanner          P – PLAN

          R –  RHYTHM

          E – EXTRAS

          P – PRIORITY

PLAN – Right now, lay out your calendar pages for September, October, November, and December and write in everything already scheduled: work, activities, appointments, concerts, church services, Bible studies, etc. Include your childrens’ games, recitals, field trips and school holidays as soon as you get the notice. Take a look at the next four months. What is already on the calendar is a given – the empty space is now where your decisions for ‘yes’ and ‘no’ will occur. If there is (horrors) no white space, honey you are already in trouble! Pray about what might need to be reconsidered or culled from your life. I raised 4 kids and we chose to limit each of them to only 2 extra curricular activities per season. (They turned out alright because they had to learn early in life that you can’t ‘do it all’ – at least not at one time!)

fallschoolRHYTHM – What time of day, day of the week, and month of the year do you find you have the most creative energy? It’s helpful to know your own unique ‘rhythm’ and plan accordingly. For instance, I’m a morning person so most of my creative writing is done early in the day and my ‘no mind’ tasks are relegated to the evening hours when my brain slows down. Also, after a full weekend of speaking, I’m usually ‘peopled out’ and thus choose to not schedule hospitality and too much outreach for Mondays.  In addition, twice a year (January and July) I set aside an extended period of time to intentionally be quiet before the Lord and do some prayerful evaluation of my life on all levels – personal, professional, physical and spiritual. This includes a lot of listening….

fallpumpkinblessEXTRAS – As you anticipate the Fall 2014 season, what are the Special “extras” in your life and how can you set aside the resources to prepare for them? I have a College Reunion in October (in SC) and a Family Wedding in November (in TN), not to mention adult children coming home to CT for Christmas throughout the holidays. If I begin now to set aside funds for gifts, travel, entertainment and house prep, I can actually enjoy the process of these events. What about you? Do you get frantic in November and December because you haven’t been strategic about the holidays (even though you know they are coming)? This year, try to do a bit each week in the fall towards your goals. Then enjoy!

CINDYTREESSIPRIORITY – Long before now, you already established your life priorities and how you would choose to invest your time and resources based on your own life values. So today, as kids go back to school, a new church calendar is launched, and the air begins to get crisp and cool, once again you need to visit those “constants” – time with God, family relationships, health strategy, and… (you fill in the blanks here). In addition to confirming daily habits, it’s a great idea to nail down perhaps at least one goal per month. Mine are: September – Finish writing for all fall and Christmas speaking events and start using Fit Bit. October – Be extra supportive of husband as he seeks God’s direction in newly retired life.  November – Concentrate on outreach and encouragement to all extended family members. December – Observe Advent daily with Mike and begin writing a new book proposal.

 Remember, though it is our job to P.R.E.P.,  we must continually offer our lives up to God and trust that He will guide and re-direct as He sees fit.

“We plan the way we want to live,
but only God makes us able to live it.”
Psalm 16.9 MSG

fallprepleaves

Fall is a grand and glorious season! And, friend, it’s HERE! Rather than be overwhelmed or overscheduled, use the P.R.E.P. model (Prepare, Rhythm, Extras, Priority) and remember to be thankful for the Gift of each new day.

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©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!

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What Comes After Sunset?

 What Comes After Sunset?

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell

fiddlerfiddlerdianesobolewski

“Life is as precarious as a fiddler on the roof…” (photo Diane Sobolewski)

We just saw the musical “Fiddler on the Roof” at the Goodspeed Opera House — a birthday gift with dear friends. Having recently married off two daughters, I delighted in the lively song “Matchmaker, Matchmaker.” I somewhat identified with Tevye’s struggle against change in “Tradition.” But I quietly wept during the singing of “Sunrise, Sunset.”

“Sunrise, sunset. Sunrise, sunset.

Swiftly fly the years.

One season following another.

Laden with happiness and tears…”

Even as summer 2014  fades into one of my favorite seasons – autumn– so I know that life’s seasons are advancing rapidly as well.

family1990

Our family about the time we moved to Connecticut to serve at First Church in Wethersfield

This Sunday my husband will preach his final sermon at a church he has served as a minister for 23 years. “Sunrise, sunset. Swiftly fly the years…”  When I look at the 4 kids in our family picture at the time we arrived here in New England (knowing only one person in all of Connecticut), I can’t help but echo the lyrics “I don’t remember growing older. When did they?”

Only yesterday I was in the ‘sunrise’ of my life — so full of eagerness to embrace everything and maybe even change the world a little bit. I love that my kids and many younger friends are there now – taking on the world by storm and I’m sure making it a better place.

But I’m convinced that the ‘sunset’ of life can be just as engaging, as long as we are open to change and willing to live through the delicate dance of ‘transition.’ (btw, I am not retiring…smile)

grannygranddadsaoirse

We like our new titles – GrandDad and Granny! (photo David Gilbert)

galapew

So many Stories…. (photo David Gilbert)

Perhaps Tevye and Golde (the parents in “Fiddler”) might have appreciated this prayer for life’s transitions when their world was changing rapidly: “Lord, help me to unclutter my life, to organize myself in the direction of simplicity. Lord, I give you these stirrings inside me. I give You my discontent. I give You my restlessness. I give You my doubt. I give you my despair. I give You all the longings I hold inside. Help me to listen to these signs of change, of growth; help me to listen seriously and follow where they lead through the breathtakingly empty space of an open door. Amen.” (from “Common Prayer”)

This weekend our dear friends and church family honored Mike for his years of ministry and it was a precious and grace-filled occasion. Each face represented a story we have lived through and a journey we have walked through with dear people. And yet, at this time, Mike clearly senses a nudging from God to move forward, gracefully and gratefully.

What comes after ‘sunset?’

Honestly, he doesn’t know, but he is confident God is not finished with him yet. Of course, the obvious answer to post-sunset is that the night comes – and with it darkness, but also REST. Perhaps there will be some of both in the days ahead.

The incredible team who creatively orchestrated all the ways to honor my dear husband (their friend and pastor) put up this sign which is really all any of us want to hear at ‘sunset,’ isn’t it? “Well done, Mike, good and faithful servant.”mikewelldonesign

What comes after ‘sunset?’

Here is truth. What comes after sunset is …. SUNRISE. A new beginning of a new day. It happens every twenty-four hours.

Endings morphing into beginnings.

Are you facing a ‘sunset’ situation? The end of a career?  A marriage?  A dream? Or a life? Going through such a transition is definitely “laden with happiness and tears…” All seasons are.

But even if you are still in the darkness, don’t forget that God is not in the dark.

He sees. He knows. He has a plan for you for whatever days are ahead. The years are flying swiftly. “Life is as precarious as a fiddler on the roof.” Change is here to stay.

But the sun will rise tomorrow.

Sunrise

Will you and I (and Mike) be willing to face a New Day and do New Things?

“From SUNRISE to SUNSET, let the Lord’s name be praised!” (Psalm 113.3 CEB)

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BONUS: Daughter Maggie sent video greetings to her Daddy’s retirement (she was in a show in the midwest and couldn’t attend) – “Unforgettable” is also the father/daughter dance from her wedding… http://bit.ly/unforgettablemaggie

©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!

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My 10 Favorite Songs to Sing to Children!

 My 10 Favorite Songs to Sing to Children!

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell

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“Granny”

 Everything you told me was absolutely true!

It IS amazing being Granny! And day after tomorrow I finally get to hold my sweet little two-month old Saoirse in my arms again.

And sing to her.

I will sing softly but I will sing her words of love and joy and words of life, as I did with my own four children. And I’m quite confident that she will simply not care if I’m off-key.

Do you sing to your children or grandchildren? If not, why not? Don’t know what to sing?

I thought you might say that. In a casual interview, my friends who have all been grannies longer than I all confessed to singing, even if they were “tone deaf.”

And just what do they sing, you might ask? Let me share some of their answers before I give you my own list…

grandsusan

Fun Grandmother of 21 on the Front Row!

Well, the front runner is quite obviously “Jesus Loves Me” – which I totally get when my Washington DC friend Susan Yates  says it’s her standby. After all, this author and model has 21 grandchildren! I guess you would definitely have to use a short and very familiar song if you have that many to sing to. (In fact, it’s a special song to me as well, if you read last week’s blog “An Amazing Thing Every Mama and Daddy Can Do”)

grandmapam

“Nana”

Texas author Gari Meacham  says that singing “Jesus Loves Me” to her grands is a also a good reminder for her to rest in Jesus’ love. And when California marriage specialist Pam Farrel hears “sing wiff me, Nana,” that 3-year-old  sings the entire hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy!”

grandmormor

“Mormor”

Then there are the really great folk classics like “Michael, Row the Boat Ashore” and “Hush Little Baby, Don’t Say a Word, Mama’s Gonna Buy You A Mockingbird” which First Place 4 Health Director  Vicki Heath  sings to her 5 grands on Edisto Island, South Carolina and Chicago area author/actor Maggie Rowe  also sings to her new granddaughter.

"Nonny"

“Nonny”

Georgia Bible teacher Nancy McGuirk  sings to her 4 grands the same bedtime song she sang to her own children -Here I am Lord, Is it I Lord. I have heard You calling in the night. I will go Lord, if You lead me. I will hold Your people in my heart.” Oklahoma author Cheri Fuller  sings her 6 grands a goodnight lullaby passed down from her father:  Sleep, baby sleep. Close your bright eyes, and I will sing to you a tender lullaby….” 

grandkendra

“GrandmaKK”

We grannies also love fun camp songs like “Skidamarink a-dink, a-dink, Skidamarink a-doo, I love you!” sung often by midwest author Kendra Smiley   to her nine. “I have always sung a mixture of songs to the babies – hymns, silly songs, old favorites.  If the idea is for the little one to fall asleep in my arms, then it is soothing songs.  If the goal is entertainment or distraction, I roll out the silly songs.”

karengrands

“PP” (long story…)

Texas publisher Karen Porter  uses fun motions to sing to her 5 “Sing a song of sixpence a pocket full of rye….” Ending with a fun tweak on the nose!  “That always gets a giggle, but it’s a good thing we don’t take the lyrics literally.” 

grandanita

“Grammy”

And it’s no surprise that Atlanta comedienne and songwriter  Anita Renfroe  loves to “make up nonsensical songs because they don’t understand English yet”  (but I suspect they understand Southern…)

And now, my own eclectic list (including music/lyric links) - favorites  I once sang to my own children and will carry on with Saoirse and future grands, Lord willing…

My 10 Favorite Songs to Sing to Children!

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell (in no particular order)

  1. “All The Way” - “When your Granny loves you, it’s no good unless she loves you all the way, happy to be near you when you need someone to cheer you, all the way..” (pretend you are Frank Sinatra or Celine Dion.)
  2. “I Am Jesus’ Little Lamb” (sung by my husband to our 4 kids and now we are passing it along) Ends with “…loves me every day the same, even calls me by my name!”  Other similar choices which give the all-important message of being LOVED: “Jesus Loves Me” (insert your child’s name in instead of ‘me’) and “Jesus Loves the Little Children of the World”  
  3. “You Are My Sunshine”  (it helps if you have a southern twang, which I most certainly do) and “I Love You A Bushel and a Peck”
  4. “Goodnight My Someone, Goodnight My Love” great song from “The Music Man” (I insert her name instead of someone)
  5. “Spirit Song”“O Let the Son of God enfold you with His Spirit and His Love, Let Him fill your heart and satisfy your soul….” (from my Jesus Movement days…)
  6. “Over the Rainbow”  - just because it is a practically perfect song…”if happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow why oh why can’t I?”
  7. “Fairest Lord Jesus” - merely one of the scores of hymns I sing pretty much all the time, so will definitely pass along to little ones… “fair is the sunshine, fairer still the moonlight, and all the twinkling starry host; Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines purer than all the angels heaven can boast.”
  8. “Edelweiss” and “My Favorite Things” because if it was good enough for Fraulein Maria in “The Sound of Music” it’s good enough for me.
  9. “The Way You Look Tonight” – - “Someday, when I’m awfully low, and the world is cold, I will feel a glow just thinking of you…and the way you look tonight.” (especially for those of us who live far away from our grands…)
  10. “10,000 Reasons- Bless The Lord”  – One of my few favorite contemporary worship songs. But who can beat these words? “The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning, it’s time to sing Your praise again. Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me, let me be singing when the evening comes…bless the Lord O my soul…”

keepcalmsingWhat are YOU singing these days?

under the mercy, Cindy

So sing! The song of rejoicing softens hard hearts. Happy praises offered in simplicity and love lead the faithful to complete harmony, without discord. Don’t stop singing. (Hildegarde, 12th century)

 ©2014 Lucinda Secrest McDowell  EncouragingWords.net

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