A Mama’s Choice

ewheader15A  Mama’s Choice

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell

choicefingers2My child recently had a child. She chose life –– to become a mother. And I think back to the choice I made the day I walked out of a Seattle courtroom as her new mother.

Do you remember when you first became a mama? Parenting is a privilege, an honor, and lifelong commitment. We are not only life-givers at the beginning, but every subsequent choice we make either gives life to our child or takes a piece of it away.

choicefamilygardenOur Heavenly Father knows all about hard choices. Though His own children had rejected Him time and time again, God always offered them a second chance – a choice: “Choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord Your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him.”  (Deuteronomy 30.19-20)

Love Him. Follow Him. Obey Him. And the reward? Life. A full life. Who wouldn’t want that for their children?

CHOICEBWCROPAnd yet, even the best parent falters and fails. I know I have.

I entered motherhood with great desire and determination to pour love, courage, joy and hope into the boys and girls God entrusted me with for such a short time. And I meant it. So I tried to do it – with a full measure of grace and mercy.

But sometimes I made poor choices.  Have you ever chosen self over others; temper over temperance; control over release; fear over trust; loud over quiet; or settled into lethargy rather than actively respond to God? Yeah, me too.

choicefamilyEventually, my ultimate choice was to parent with the grace I had received – allowing my children to learn the hard way, even to fail. To help them know that God (and I) offer second chances, actions have consequences, and choices do make a difference.

 

Wouldn’t you like to be a Mama who:

  • grannycold1smallPromotes Security – assuring children they are accepted and loved, no matter what.
  • Offers Significance — helping them understand their unique gifts and leanings and then urging them to courageously pursue all God has for them.
  • Provides Strength – cultivating inner fortitude to keep going in difficult times and placing their hope in God.

Think of the ever-widening ripple effect of such a choice for life. Our children will change a future we will never see!

As I hold my new granddaughter, I believe this with all my heart.*

under the mercy, Cindy

* selected from Day 31 in “Live These Words” by Lucinda Secrest McDowell ©2014

Website/Blog www.EncouragingWords.net

Amazon author site amazon.com/author/lucindasecrestmcdowell 

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 I Discovered in Gethsemane

What I Discovered in Gethsemane 

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell

gethchurchofagony

Church of the Agony – 2009 LSM

A few years ago I had the great privilege of spending time during Lent in the Garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem. In the Easter story, Jesus’ time in the Garden is one that pierces my soul every time I think of all He encountered. So it was especially poignant to be there amongst the olive trees and in the shadow of the Church of the AgonyGethsemane means ‘pressed down’ and that’s exactly how Christ felt in that night of his betrayal.

  • He goes through the whole range of emotions as He first tries to bargain with God for ‘another way’ (Have you ever tried to bargain with God?),
  • then He cries out for friends who aren’t there for him (Have you ever felt abandoned by those you’re counting on?),
  • gethprayerthen finally, He surrenders with great peace to the will of God, the One who knows and loves Him best and created Him for this very moment (Have you ever finally said to God, ‘nonetheless not my will, but Thy will be done’ and really meant it?)

As I observe Christ’s obvious peace in the midst of agony (that church is most aptly named), I realize that Jesus’ whole life was preparing Him for this moment and the way He was able to stand in it was in direct correlation to how He spent His days. I want to be more like Christ — it is a longing of my heart. And so I simply must do what Jesus did.

Here are 5 ways God is directing me on that path during this Lenten season. (for more about Lent, see last week’s blog “It’s Not Just About Giving Up Chocolate…”

1. Embrace Silence – listen to God’s ‘still small voice.’

lentmanonbenchWe read in God’s Word that Jesus withdrew from others and prayed often to his heavenly Father. In recent years God has literally opened up whole new vistas of prayer for me by teaching me how to embrace silence. It is a growing discipline of mine to begin morning devotions by having 3-5 minutes of complete silence and listening for God’s still small voice. You would not believe what I have heard in those times. Silence and solitude go against the grain, but offer great benefits for those who seek them. “As we remain in the silence, the inner noise and chaos will begin to settle. Our capacity to open up wider and wider to God grows. The Holy One has access to places we don’t even know exist in the midst of the hubbub. Lean into God, trusting that being with Him in silence will loosen your rootedness in the world and plant you by streams of living water.” (Adele Calhoun, Spiritual Disciplines)

2. Incorporate prayers of the church in my devotions.

lentbibleprayeri am a firm believer in praying extemporaneously. But I have also increasingly learned to appreciate praying the prayers that have been around simply for ages and ages. Prayers by King David found in the Psalms. The Lord’s Prayer. And prayers by many, many followers of Christ through the centuries. It has been my great joy to introduce my readers to some of my favorite prayers as I included one in each day of my “Live These Words” 40-day devotional. This week I was on Sirius Family Talk Radio interviewed by Rev. Jim Wood and we both agreed that it’s not the fact that a prayer has been written down before that can occasionally make it seem ‘rote’ or ‘meaningless’. It is always what is in the pray-er’s heart that affects prayer. If you truly embrace words such as these, then your prayers are definitely heartfelt, even though what you are doing is aligning yourself with prayers of fellow believers centuries before now. 

3. Keep short accounts – forgive easily, offer grace, accept God’s mercy.

lentashverseMany of us will attend an Ash Wednesday service today or tonight and receive the ashes in the form of a cross on our foreheads. As the pastor says “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return” I am always reminded of my own mortality and how fragile life is. Are you? If so, then how important to keep short accounts with others, to not let the sun set on our anger. To reach out in love and friendship both to those we know and those whose path we cross unexpectedly. I am daily grateful for God’s grace to me and this season I want to be a grace giver to others. Offering forgiveness quickly is one way to do that. But also, we must learn to accept God’s forgiveness of us and therefore live each day under His mercy.

4. Fast during Lent from something in order to focus on Jesus and His work on the cross for us. 

lentfastwordsFasting is one of the spiritual disciplines of Lent which begins today with Ash Wednesday. One definition of fasting is “the voluntary denial of something for a specific period of time for a spiritual purpose.” The intent is that we give up something in order to focus more prayerfully on Christ. One spring I gave up reading novels because I found that I was using them to ‘escape’ from other things.One of my fasts this Lent is that I have decided to abstain from technology on my Sabbath so that no interruptions such as email, facebook, internet research, etc. will distract me from rest and worship.

5. Surrender…Relinquish… Lay it/him/her at the foot of the cross, “Not my will, but Thy will be done.” 

gethsemenecrosstree

Garden of Gethsemene – 2009 LSM

Finally, I hope we can all learn from Christ in the Garden that the place of surrender is truly the place where our wills meet God’s. In 40 short days believers will gather all over the world in places of worship and lay our concerns at the cross of Jesus. Did you know that during Lent we can do that daily? Even folks like me. I’m a recovering control freak, so letting go of anything is pretty difficult for me. But I’m aiming for surrender and relinquishment this season and I hope I can do it as Christ did, with great peace and serenity “Not my will, but Thy will be done.”

Jeremiah 6.16 reminds us to “Ask where the good way is and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.”  May we all do that in this holy season of Lent.

“Heavenly Father, Forgive those things we have done which have caused You sadness, and those things we should have done that would have brought You joy. In both we have failed ourselves, and You. Bring us back to that place where our journey began, when we said that we would follow the way that You first trod. Lead us to the Cross and meet us there. Amen.” (unknown)

 lentenwordsspecialamazonunder the mercy, Cindy

©2015 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!

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It’s Not Just About Giving Up Chocolate…

 It’s Not Just About Giving Up Chocolate…

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell

lentchocolateWhen I was growing up in south Georgia, my Episcopalian friends Mercer and Lisa always proudly announced this time of year that they were “giving up chocolate for Lent!” I never really knew what that meant. All I knew is that they didn’t seem any more holy after doing this, so I kept eating chocolate…

Now, I not only know what “Lent” means, I embrace this season – the 40 days prior to our celebration of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Easter is one of the holiest and most significant observances in the life of a believer and definitely deserves more than just a one-day acknowledgement. lentrenewal“Lent” derives its name from an old Saxon word lencton which literally meant length. During these 6 weeks while we are repenting and reflecting on what Christ did for us, the days are lengthening and we are moving from winter to spring – literally into New Life.

In the 3rd and 4th centuries Christians began the practice of a 40-day preparation period which many still embrace today. Lent is a time when our souls seek God in a fresh way. lentbowlAnd yes, fasting is one way to do that. Some people fast from a certain  kind of food, others from tempting time-consuming activities such as television or facebook. The idea is to practice denial of something so that we can focus more on what Christ has done for us.

For many followers of Christ, Lent has not been a regular part of their life because it’s what those “other churches” do. But I assure you, there are practices we can all embrace during this time which will draw us closer to Jesus.

lentnouwenquoteHow will YOU observe Lent this year?

  • Daily soul nurture through silence, prayer and a biblical devotional?
  • Reflection and repentance for times of choosing another path?
  • Reaching out with love and service to those who are hurting and need hope?
  • Worshipping with the body of Christ – Holy Communion weekly?
  • Living in gratitude and sharing the Hope of Easter to all around you?

One thing we can all do during these 40 days is to set aside time each day with God – reflection, prayer and Bible reading. While there are many great resources out there, may I humbly suggest my own book “Live These Words” – it is 40 days of devotionals which include one biblical word a day, a prayer and an action point. For Lent 2015 I have written a companion guide “Lenten Words” which literally takes you through these devotionals, beginning with Ash Wednesday, February 18 and concluding on day 40 with Easter Sunday, April 5. You can easily PRINT “Lenten Words” here.

lentenwordsspecialamazon

My publisher, Bold Vision Books, has arranged for Amazon to offer a special discount for “Live These Words” in both paperback (only $11.69) and kindle ($1.99) from NOW through Ash Wednesday February 18.    So order soon and then download “Lenten Words” from this website.

lentnail “O, God, when we pause to look back at our lives on this Ash Wednesday,  we realize that we have been weighed in the balance and found wanting.  We have neglected to do good when it was in our power to do so. We have ignored the cries of the motherless, the fatherless, the widow and the widower choosing instead to turn children and the elderly into the new poor.We have not dealt honorably with our enemies or our friends, and we have feigned a place in the company of the righteous. Forgive us, O God,    for the times we have neglected to provide our children and our world an authentic example of Christianity. As we begin the journey of these 40 days, Wash us, O God and we shall be clean.Cleanse us, O Lord, and we  shall be made whole. Amen.”

under the mercy, Cindy

©2015 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!

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Don’t We All Need Cardiotherapy?

ewheader15

Don’t We All Need Cardiotherapy?

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell

heartstethascopeOne year I spent Valentine’s Day in the cardiac care unit of Hartford Hospital. This was not so I could literally have “Happy Heart Day.” This was an emergency. My husband had failed his stress test and was discovered to have clogged arteries requiring heart catheterization. Later he had a five-way heart bypass which was a huge wake-up call for us. bnawithmikeSince Mike looked extremely healthy and fit, we had no warning of impending heart disease. However, both his parents had suffered heart problems, so he was a prime candidate. We’re celebrating Mike’s 15 healthy years since heart surgery and are grateful he is doing better than before!

But not only is heart disease the number-one killer of women today, “heartsickness” is also a devastating reality. Too many people I meet are slowly dying from anger, unforgiveness, and stress. They, too, need cardiotherapy from the Great Physician.

God wants us to be heart healthy.heartpills

Throughout the Bible are accusations of people being hard-hearted when it refers to the unresponsive, stiff, angry, insensitive, rebellious, and independent attitudes ruling our hearts. Today, many symptoms of hard-heartedness are such things as erecting walls to protect us from pain, living with an “it’s all about me” attitude, refusing to give God lordship and control over our behavior, and harboring pain and grudges. All of these hurt us and can damage our souls.

hearttulipsezekiel2According to Ezekiel, idolatry was the cause of hardened hearts, and God desired to replace the idolatry of the Israelites. “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36.26 Most of us don’t think of ourselves as idol worshipers in the twenty-first century, but we are. Whenever we focus on what we get by serving God (good luck, prosperity, long life, success in battle, power, or prestige), we are not worshiping Him simply for who He is. That is what the idols of long ago did for the people — they were simply means to a desired end.

hearttreeBut God promises to renew our hearts. Just as my husband’s clogged arteries had to be bypassed with new arteries, so our souls also must be healed from heart disease. “I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the Lord. They will be My people, and I will be their God because they will return to Me with all their heart” (Jeremiah 24.7). Then we no longer have to focus on what has kept us emotionally or spiritually clogged. The state of your heart—your soul—is all important. It helps determine who you are and how you’ll live out your days here on earth.

  • Is your heart totally sold out to God?
  • Are you seeking His will and His way in every decision of life?
  • What do you need to do to exchange your heart of stone for a heart of flesh?

heartvintagevalIn their book, The Sacred Romance, John Eldredge and the late Brent Curtis penetrated my aching, needy heart that desperately wanted to hear how God tenderly woos and romances me with His love. Their words struck a chord. “The inner life, the story of our heart, is the life of the deep places within us, our passions and dreams, our fears and our deepest wounds. . . .”

As I reflect on my life, I realize that in the end it doesn’t really matter how well I have performed or what I have accomplished, even for God. But it would matter if I left my heart behind. A life without heart is not worth living.

“For out of this wellspring of our soul flows all true caring and all meaningful work, all real worship and all sacrifice. Our faith, hope, and love issue from this fount, as well. Because it is in our hearts that we first hear the voice of God and it is in the heart that we come to know Him and learn to live in His love.” (Eldredge & Curtis)

hearttitlepsalm73So, as you see hearts all over the place during this Valentine’s Week, may you be reminded of True Love and may you have a Happy Heart, a Healed Heart and a Heart for God — the Lover of Your Soul.

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73.25-26

under the mercy, Cindy

Portions of this blog were excerpted from my book, Spa for the Soul.spacoversmall

©2015 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!

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Unplugged and Recharged

Unplugged and Recharged

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell

I didn’t actually press the “publish” button for this blog today, I set up the posting in advance. In fact, I haven’t been online for at least 4 days and plan to stay unplugged for at least 4 more.  Oh yeah. I am currently right in the middle of my annual gift-to-myself of disconnecting from most high tech devices so that I may concentrate on important low tech pursuits such as:

  • unpluggedinn listening to God’s Voice
  • interacting face-to-face with real people I love and rarely see
  • exploring natural beauty on long walks
  • strategizing a balanced life for 2015
  • silence and prayer

And most of it is being done in this lovely Victorian Inn on the left deep in the heart of Texas (painted by artist Sherry Green-Peck). This is my 7th year of doing this and honestly, I don’t know how I would have started each new year without this wrinkle-in-time…

As part of my Rule of Life (see last week’s blog) I occasionally take time away to rest, recreate and rejoice. This is not a luxury, but a necessity if I am to have the kind of life that God calls me to — dwelling with Him so that I may be filled in order to pour out to others.

unpluggedtreebenchAnd yet, our culture rarely supports such pursuits:  “If you live in North America, you are a prime candidate for slow death by overstimulation. Your environment is busy depleting you with noise, distractions, and the compulsion to always be in a hurry. If I had set out to destroy my identity as a beloved child of God, I couldn’t have done better than living in America at the start of the twenty-first century.  The greatest threats are the constant busyness and frantic hurry that demand my allegiance.” (Fil Anderson in Running on Empty)

I’m all too familiar with the consequences of letting distractions and ‘noise’  drown out the voice of God: when there’s no time for solitude and silence all my activities cease to be effective, my words lose meaning and my ministry lacks power. As I look at the great saints of old, one quality they all share is their attentiveness to God in solitude, and so that has become one of the spiritual disciplines I’m seeking to build into my 21st century life.

unpluggedbible“In repentance and rest you will be saved, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.”  is one of my favorite passages where the prophet Isaiah says to people who have distanced themselves from God – You know what to do in order to be whole, but you just choose not to do it! (Isaiah 30.15),

As January comes to an end, how much time have you spent in solitude and silence, listening for the still, small voice of your Creator? We simply must be hushed before God “so that we can listen with our spirit to Him and enjoy His Presence. unpluggedmatthewThis discipline also extends to our relationships with people. Silence in the presence of others can be practiced by deliberately speaking less than we otherwise would.” In addition to times of listening silence,  I also look forward to special times spent in the company of others and by listening to them I will also be disciplining myself to open my ears more than my mouth. “The discipline of silence before God and people relates to the practice of self-control; the more we develop inner control and composure, the less we will feel compelled to gain outward control over people and circumstances.” (Ken Boa)

unpluggedstmarysThis week I’m also helping to lead a Silent Retreat at this beautiful St. Mary’s of Providence center in Pennsylvania where 40 women will spend a whole weekend in silence (yes, even during meals) except for my four presentations on “Dwell.” (yes, there are some funny things I could say about being asked to ‘speak’ at a ‘silent retreat’…smile) I know God will meet us there…

Embracing the contemplative spiritual life does not come naturally to Type A personalities like me. However, in the past few years I have come to not only appreciate but actively yearn for this dimension in my own lifestyle. Psalm 46.10 reminds us to “Cease striving and know that I am God.” Thomas Merton points out that “contemplative prayer nourishes the inner life and begets a luminous serenity that can permeate the various components of exterior life. It is a spiritual homing device that attunes us to the Presence that alone can satisfy our deepest longings.”

unpluggedunplugI’d love to display that ‘luminous serenity’ of one who has had her deepest longings satisfied from time with her Abba Father! But in order to filled, I must first be emptied…. In order to get recharged, I must first unplug. In a way, it’s a discipline of letting go of control (or at least the idea of being in control, we never really are, are we?). True confession here — it will be hard for me not to check email and facebook for a whole week — eeek!

But the world will go on without my being ‘connected’ that way! In fact, I probably won’t be missed at all! “God did not create you to be all things to all people all the time all by yourself. If you’re trying to do that, you’re insulting His creative wisdom because He created you with limits. He wants to be God and run the universe; He doesn’t want you to be God and run the universe. Yes, honor God by your work, but then honor Him again by your rest. Sometimes God may want you to sit on a stump and admire the woods for three hours because He created that for you to enjoy.” (Richard Swenson in Margin)

So…have a great week and just in case you wonder what I’m up to? That’s me out in the Texas woods, sitting on a stump….???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

“Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense His grace.” Matthew 6.6 MSG

under the mercy, Cindy

©2015 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!

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Do You Have a Rule of Life?

 Do You Have a ‘Rule of Life’?

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell

Mama once said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up there every time…” Which (to translate) means “Honey, you better decide how you want to live your one wild and wonderful life… or else you will turn around in the end and find yourself mumbling ‘what happened?’…!”

Five years ago when I started this blog, I also decide to ask God for a Rule of Life. The result was my very FIRST BLOG below, originally posted on New Years Day, January 1, 2010:

“Living Intentionally” by Lucinda Secrest McDowell

rulenewyearHappy New Year 2010!

I don’t know about you, but I want live fully during 2010! But without an intentional plan, I could easily squander my time and energies with no clear focus. Perhaps that’s one reason I am embracing an ancient discipline known as developing a ‘Rule of Life’ – a time-honored practice that has helped ordinary people live extraordinary and deepened spiritual lives through a personal living covenant with God. Living intentionally comes from my desire to integrate both my daily life experiences and my spiritual life through spiritual disciplines.

ruleblackboardPastor Pete Scazzero says that a ‘Rule of Life’ is an “intentional, conscious plan to keep God at the center of everything we do. It provides guidelines to help us intentionally pay attention and remember Him…It is meant to be a framework for freedom, providing healthy boundaries while leaving plenty of room for flexibility and individuality. A good ‘Rule of Life’ works best when it challenges us.”

So…as a New Year begins, I have set before me a new ‘Rule of Life’ which I’m sure will be tweaked and refined throughout time, but at least I hold it before me to guide me on the journey:

Lucinda Secrest McDowell’s Personal Rule of Life

    • celticsunrisecrossPractice Contemplative Spiritual Disciplines through Daily Office/Divine Hours each morning (and afternoon/evening) which incorporate Silence, Prayers (including Prayer Journal), Scripture, Devotional Reading and Hymnody.
    • Observe Sabbath one day a week as a time for rest, reflection and worship. Twice a year take a personal retreat where I accomplish absolutely nothing except rest, reflection and recreation in the presence of God.
    • Study God’s Word personally as well as participating/teaching regular group Bible Study for mutual support, accountability and knowledge.
    • Continue to invest time, energy and resources in Relationships with Family, Friends, Colleagues, Neighbors and Church Family. Look for ways to encourage, support and connect.
    • Fully engage in all my Work ‘as unto the Lord’ and seek to practice the presence of God wherever I serve or labor. Grow in my skills as a writer, speaker and teacher.
    • Maintain physical Health through good food choices and regular exercise (especially walking and biking with Mike). Seek to stay balanced physically, spiritually, emotionally and mentally.
    • Expand my Global Worldview and discover ways to reach out in compassion, relief and prayerful redemption to needy people locally, nationally and internationally.

ruleblogThe beginning of a New Year is a great time to take stock of our lives and thank God for His faithfulness thus far, pledging to trust Him fully for all that lies ahead…. Thanks for reading my new blog “Encouraging Words” and I hope you’ll stay with me as the year unfolds.

“Keep your eyes open for God, watch for His works; be alert for signs of His presence. Remember the world of wonders He has made.” Psalm 105.4-5 MSG

~ under the mercy, Cindy

© 2010 Lucinda Secrest McDowell

ruleoflifebookNote: Since I first wrote this blog 5 years ago, my friend Dr. Stephen Macchia has written a marvelous book - Crafting a Rule of Life – which is a great resource I highly recommend. (click on book for more info)

©2015 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!

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My Word for the Year

 My Word for the Year

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell

wordswordsEvery year a word finds me.

I like to think that it is perhaps God’s Spirit nudging me to learn more about what it means to actually “live the words” found in His Word, the Bible. (Now that sounds like a great book idea, don’tcha think?)

NewthingflowerinsnowLast year the word that found me was “NEW” – based on the verse “I am doing a NEW thing!” (Isaiah 43.19). And there was plenty of “new” in both my personal life as well as my writing and speaking. I met many new friends at various events where I was privileged to bring a new message of living your unique story with hope and grace. I now answer to a new name – Granny!

My new book “Live These Words” was published to encourage living out of 40 great words from the Bible (read it during Lent). I made new memories with old friends at both my seminary and college reunions. Our “New England Christian Writers Retreat” gathered 60 writers and will be at a new location next time – Gordon Conwell Seminary. My husband began a new season of life and ministry. But there were also new challenges and new failures and new opportunities to persevere…..

Still, through it all,  God’s mercies to me were “new every morning.”dwellbluebirdtree

It’s uncanny how a “word for the year” can unfold and permeate every area of our lives. I’m still learning how to embrace the new and not be intimidated by the new (especially new technology.)

But that was last year. In 2015 a different word found me and I’m claiming it as my “word for the year” –

~ DWELL ~

dwellrockerYes, you read that correctly.  Dwell. The dictionary definition of “Dwell” is twofold:

  1. To live as a resident;
  2. To keep attention directed;

 My question?  “Where do I want to DWELL this year?”

My answer? I deeply desire to:

  • DWELL in God’s Presence
  • DWELL in Serenity, Strength, Gratitude, Courage and Joy
  • Make my heart God’s DWELLING place

I don’t want God to be just part of my life, I want to literally dwell in Him (aka the “with God” life). I don’t want to live in fear or despair or striving or chaos. I want to be the kind of person whose whole life reflects her dwelling (“living in and keeping attention directed on”) those qualities such as Serenity, Strength, Gratitude, Courage and Joy.

dwellhousesThis word found me and is highlighted by this verse:

“Strength and Joy are God’s Dwelling Place.” I Chronicles 16.27

Today is mid-January and I’ve spent these first weeks of 2015 wrapped in every wool sweater I own, under warm afghans, seeking to marinate in the love and mercy of God.

To Dwell…..dwellwordfor2015

Did a word find you this year?

If not, ask God to bring one to mind, perhaps with a scriptural promise attached.

Then claim it as a place you hope to learn from and live from.

I would love for you to leave a comment and tell me YOUR word for the year.

 Dwelling under the mercy, Cindy

P.S. I have just written a brand new conference/retreat series on the topic of “DWELL.” I will be presenting it in 4 parts later this month in Pennsylvania. But let me know if your group would like for me to come and encourage us all how to Dwell in God’s refuge?dwellphoto

©2015 Lucinda Secrest McDowell

www.EncouragingWords.net

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