Hush!

Hush!

Lucinda Secrest McDowell

You quieted the raging oceans with their pounding waves and silenced the shouting of the nations.  Psalm 65.7 

            When God says “Hush” we had better listen! He is, after all, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, able to silence nature as well as nations.

            Do you find yourself only half-listening to a conversation because you are mentally crafting your own brilliant response? Are you tired of your own voice yet?

            Sometimes God bids us to be quiet – to speak small and listen large.

            Even if such practice goes against our nature. Even if we actually have something important and worthy to say. But especially if we haven’t invested sufficient thought and prayer into what the words will be that come forth from our mouth.

            Jesus said that it is out of the heart that the mouth speaks (Luke 6.45). So perhaps we need to make sure these fickle, fragile hearts of ours have sufficient tending. Listening for God’s still small voice. Resting and relying on His words to fill us with both truth and trust.

      Is it time for you to HUSH?

            H – Hear God’s voice through reading His Word.

            U – Understand His will through prayer.

            S – Silence your own voice, in order to receive.

            H – He will quiet your soul.

Lord, my mouth is shut and ears are open. Please speak. Amen.

under the mercy, Cindy

This is one of my ten devotions now appearing in “Just Breathe” the brand new journal/devotional from Ellie Claire and Worthy Publishing, 2017 Click on PHOTO to order your copy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

©2017 Lucinda Secrest McDowell

My latest book, “Dwelling Places” just received the Christian Retailing Best Award for Devotional – voted by the bookselling/publishing industry professionals. I am so honored and humbled and grateful to share these words from the Word with you and many others…

Order my award-winning book  “Dwelling Places” from Amazon HERE under $10

Order my award-winning book  “Dwelling Places” from ChristianBook HERE under $10

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My Own Gift from the Sea

My Own Gift from the Sea…

Lucinda Secrest McDowell

Will you be spending some time this Summer at the Beach? Do you know that being by the Sea can restore your soul? Of course you do, that’s why you’re going

This lucky gal just returned from a few days at the seaside and can attest to the fact that there is nothing quite like ocean waves, shells on the shore, and sand between your toes. Early mornings looking out at the vast expanse of emptiness (not really empty) brings me Calm, Serenity and a sense of God’s Presence unlike any other place.

What I take away from such focused and rare experiences is truly a GIFT.

seagftsNot long after I was born, Mama turned to one of her favorite authors – Anne Morrow Lindbergh – for some inspiration on life through a brand new book “Gift from the Sea.” I am so grateful she gave me a copy when I was a young girl. No surprise that this book is now a classic (and so am I)! If you haven’t yet read it, do yourself a favor and go buy a copy. Right now.

This busy mother of five kids in mid-century America, married to the world’s most famous aviator (Charles Lindbergh, you may have heard of him), echoed many of my own thoughts as summer begins: “My life in Connecticut, I begin to realize, lacks this quality of significance and therefore of beauty, because there is so little empty space. The space is scribbled on; the time has been filled. There are so few empty pages in my engagement pad, or empty hours in the day, or empty rooms in my life in which to stand alone and find myself. Too many activities, and people, and things. Too many worthy activities, valuable things, and interesting people. For it is not merely the trivial which clutters our lives but the important as well.”  (*Anne Morrow Lindbergh, “Gift from the Sea”)

I know your life is cluttered with Important Things, not just superfluous stuff. Mine too. But it is so crucial to take time periodically to pull away from all that, to unplug, and just sit beside the ocean waves and drink in the Silence of God’s goodness and restoration.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”  – Jesus in Matthew 11.28-30 MSG

Last week as I wandered along the shore and gathered shells, each one seemed to have a name – someone for whom I am praying. A few were perfectly white and symmetrically shaped, obviously young and new. Others were chipped and weathered, witness to many storms already but nonetheless full of beauty. I placed them in a small pile at my feet as I read my prayer book and witnessed the rising Sun. God knows them all – us all – even though what I have gathered here, both in my hands and all the people in my life, are just a fraction of His Beloved.

seanecklaceThough I am not wholly alone during this beach visit (I am sharing the experience with 3 loved ones) I can identify with Lindbergh who chronicled the benefits of her sojourn by the Sea “There are not too many activities or things or people, and each one, I find, is significant, set apart in the frame of sufficient time and space. Here there is time; time to be quiet; time to work without pressure; time to think; time to watch the heron, watching with frozen patience for his prey. Time to look at the stars or to study a shell; time to see friends, to gossip, to laugh, to talk. Time even, not to talk.” (*AML)

When you go to the Beach this summer I hope you, too, will take some time “not to talk” or text or listen to anything other than the still small Voice of the God who loves you more than you can even imagine. After all, He created all this beauty just for us!

Summer is well underway. Mine already is filling up with family visits, professional meetings, adventurous recreation and writing projects. Fact is, I’m a bit worried. I want so much to do it all and do it well, but I know that I have limits. My prayer is that I can fulfill what is the most important and focus well when I am with people, and work well when I am not.

What is your prayer for the summer?

Celebrating Mama’s 90th Birthday at the Beach with all 3 of her Daughters!

Many years ago Anne Morrow Lindbergh stated hers: “I want first of all to be at peace with myself. I want a singleness of eye, a purity of intention, a central core to my life that will enable me to carry out my obligations and activities as well as I can. I want, in fact, to live ‘in grace’ as much of the time as possible. By grace I mean an inner harmony, essentially spiritual, which can be translated into outward harmony. I would like to achieve a state of inner spiritual grace from which I could function and give as I was meant to in the eye of God.” (*AML)

Is it at all surprising that one of God’s greatest gifts from the sea is Grace? And perspective too. I need perspective because it was hard for me to say good-bye to my beach companions…

“Perhaps this is the most important thing for me to take back from beach-living: simply the memory that each cycle of the tide is valid; each cycle of the wave is valid; each cycle of a relationship is valid.” (*AML)

seadwellshellWhy not pick up a shell and write on it your own  gift from the sea you received this summer? Place it on your desk or kitchen window sill or home altar so you can always remember those whispers from that still small Voice. The ones that made life clear back in the summer of 2017…

 under the mercy, Cindy

CLICK FOR 1 Minute VIDEO: Here I am AT THE OCEAN sharing some words with you….

©2016 Lucinda Secrest McDowell from “Dwelling Places” 

Today’s Blog is excerpted from “Dwelling Places” which has just today been awarded Christian Retailing Best Award for Devotional – voted by the bookselling/publishing industry professionals. I am so honored and humbled and grateful to share these words from the Word with you and many others…

Order my award-winning book  “Dwelling Places” from Amazon HERE under $10

Order my award-winning book  “Dwelling Places” from ChristianBook HERE under $10

*excerpted from Anne Morrow Lindbergh in “Gift from the Sea” (1955)

Website/Blog 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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Where Do I Belong?

Where Do I Belong?

Lucinda Secrest McDowell

            I read the word several times before investigating it’s meaning — FoMO. When I discovered the definition, the widespread use made sense to me.

            Fear oMissing Out.

            Added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2013, “FoMO” is defined as “Anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on social media.”
            Basically it is the 21st century equivalent of keeping up with the Joneses. Where is everyone and what are they doing and why don’t I belong there too?

           A recent article in Forbes elaborated:  “Thanks to social media and digital technology, we’re faced with constant comparisons of our vacations, our clothes, our relationships, our social lives, even our life choices, with those of others. Naturally, that ever-present stream of perfection leaves us feeling sub-par. You start to question and doubt yourself, thinking things like: Where does she get those amazing power outfits? My desk looks like a disaster, not a pretty Pinterest board. I wish I could afford a week in the Mediterranean on the salary I make.” 

            We have a need to feel that we actually belong. Somewhere.     

            But too often the social media posts, rather than bringing us into a place of belonging, only exacerbate our sense of lack. There is always someone who has more — more invitations, more grandchildren, and a more beautiful home decor. 
            Where do we belong in the scheme of things?

Thousands of women this year invested precious resources to experience a stadium event called “Belong.” The title alone drew many of them in, as one of the speakers elaborated on the appeal of that name “Belong”: “Because you do. Your friends do. Your neighbors do. Your colleagues do. We are setting a big table, girls. Come to us. You can trust us with the fragile hearts you love. We will hold your stories with tender hands. We are for you.” 

            I don’t know if they all found what they were looking for.

But, had these women asked, I would have said that our ultimate sense of belonging is only found in our union with Jesus Christ. In our verse today the apostle Paul writes to the new believers at Corinth “I always thank my God for you and for the gracious gifts He has given you, now that you belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Corinthians 1.4          

What are some of those gifts? Who are some of those gifts?

As we begin to thank God for all He has given, a new sense of belonging seeps into our soul – that the reality of what we already possess in Christ is far better than the controlled posts on Facebook and elsewhere.

            We already belong. Right here with Jesus.

under the mercy, Cindy

Website/Blog 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!

Order my book  “Dwelling Places” from Amazon HERE under $10

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Have You Ever Been The Last One Chosen?

Have You Ever Been The Last One Chosen?

Lucinda Secrest McDowell

I was usually the last one chosen.

For sports teams during elementary school recess. Back in the day, the captains of each team would take turns choosing players. Raised hands and shouts of “Me!” echoed until they grudgingly accepted the final leftover people.

Kids like me. Chubby. Non-athletic. Slow runners.

Is it any wonder I spent much of my life silently pleading, “Choose Me?”

And then one day I realized that Jesus had. Chosen me. A gift for all to see – “You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit.”John 15.16 

             Choose in the New Testament Greek is eklego, which means to “pick out or select, especially with the motivation of love and kindness.” God’s grace is a gift to all and, as we embrace it, we become a chosen one — specially selected. “He chose to love us and we must choose to love others. God has chosen us in spite of our shortcomings. Our social standing or material wealth mean nothing to him — he chooses us purely out of love. But we must choose whether or not to accept God’s offer.”

Do you realize you have been chosen? Or, are you still raising your hand and trying to get His attention by doing stuff to make yourself worthy?

One young mother struggled with trying to be like someone else in order to be chosen: “Being rejected means we have no worth. Being chosen means we have it all. So we contort ourselves in whatever impossible positions we can to make ourselves chooseable. We let go of our will, conform our lives to make others approve, and lose our personalities at the altar of being picked.” (Mary DeMuth, “Worth Living”)

But remember, another’s success does not mean my failure.

It is only when we know ourselves as Beloved that we can settle down as fully desired and chosen members of the Jesus Team. Secure. Serene. Loved. “When I write to you that, as the Beloved, we are God’s chosen ones, I mean that we have been seen by God from all eternity … long before you were born and became a part of history you existed in God’s heart. Long before your parents admired you or your friends acknowledged your gifts or your teachers, colleagues, and employers encouraged you, you were already chosen. The eyes of love had seen you as precious, as of infinite beauty, as of eternal value.” (Henri Nouwen, “Life of the Beloved”)

God says to you today, “I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant’; I have chosen you and have not rejected you.(Isaiah 41.9)

You are chosen.

under the mercy, Cindy

©2017 Lucinda Secrest McDowell

Website/Blog 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!

Order my book  “Dwelling Places” from Amazon HERE under $10

Order my book  “Dwelling Places” from ChristianBook HERE under $10

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Sometimes Hidden Treasure Shines Through the Cracks

Sometimes Hidden Treasure Shines Through the Cracks

Lucinda Secrest McDowell

       I always wanted to be a Ming Vase for God.

        Beautiful. Exotic. Perfect. Wouldn’t that be a powerful witness to my great God? Think of the people who would flock to faith once they experienced me in all my loveliness — always being, saying and doing the Right Thing!

        Alas, it was not to be. 

        No Ming vases here. I saw in the mirror a clay pot — the gal next door. 

        Finally, I was where God wanted me to be.

Now He could pour His light and treasure into my simple vessel and thus it would be noticed for what it was. God’s power. God’s glory. God’s beauty. Manifested from the center of an ordinary life.

“If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us.” 2 Corinthians 4.7 

Yesterday my live radio interview host, Lynne, had read my new one-word-a-day devotional, “Dwelling Places,” and was sharing about the words that had most ministered to her. One was the word “return,” about returning to the Lord and what that can mean in our lives. Lynne said that just after she read those two pages, she encountered a prodigal — a woman who insisted she was now closer to the devil than to God. Since Lynne had just read all those words of hope and grace and mercy that Jesus extends to the wanderer, she passed along what she had learned. 

        “May I read your closing prayer from that day – ‘return’ — on the air right now?” she asked. 

        As I listened to words I had written only a year before I began to weep quietly.

        I was so deeply aware that God was the one who had put those words in me to share with others. He is the “hidden treasure” inside this ordinary person. And because I allowed Him to use me, He was glorified and perhaps a broken soul was encouraged.

            In this text we are called  “unadorned clay pots.”  How easily we break! How utterly chipped and cracked, faded and fragile we are — particularly after a lifetime of pouring out. We wonder if we are too damaged to be used, too weak to fight the battles. But the more holes in our armor, the brighter our light shines from within.

        Madeleine L’Engle observes, “If we are qualified, we tend to think we have done the job ourselves. If we are forced to accept our evident lack of qualification, then there’s no danger that we will confuse God’ work with our own or God’s glory with our own.”

        When we finally meet — and I sincerely hope we will one day — you will see an older woman with laugh lines, bling, extra pounds and big hair. A woman who fails daily, but finally has enough sense to confess and receive forgiveness, tentatively moving forward in my favorite cowboy boots.

Actually, you might not even notice me. Well, except for the light.

I sure hope on the day we meet, a glow just happens to be peeking through from where my heavenly Father dwells deep inside. Then you will know the truth about me.

        It really is All About Him.

under the mercy, Cindy

©2017 Lucinda Secrest McDowell

Website/Blog 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!

Order my book  “Dwelling Places” from Amazon HERE under $10

Order my book  “Dwelling Places” from ChristianBook HERE under $10

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Confessions of a Recovering People-Pleaser

Confessions of a Recovering People-Pleaser

Lucinda Secrest McDowell

 “Remember, you are living for an audience of One.”

My friend Steve Hayner’s great reminder of our goal — to glorify our most important ‘audience’ – God. Not that our friends be spellbound.  Not that our social media reach be expanded. Not that our personality be embraced.

            We were not called to follow Christ, build the Kingdom and please people. Paul learned this the hard way. By accumulating the accolades (from people) he almost lost the Audience (of God).

            But grace changed all that.  And he could never go back. “I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace.” (Galatians 2.21)

In a recent survey of 1200 pastors, 91% admitted to people-pleasing tendencies.

One who says he is now in recovery elaborates. “Pleasing people, of course, is not necessarily a bad thing. And some professions, by their very nature, draw people into them because they offer opportunities to help others. That desire, however, often makes us susceptible to the type of people-pleasing that becomes problematic.” 

Problematic is when outside affirmation guides us more than inner conviction.

Due to a false sense of responsibility, we then take ownership for everyone else’s feelings. We commit to too much because we don’t want to let anyone down, yet in the process of not being able to fulfill unrealistic expectations, we let everyone down.

My mantra for too long, “I just want everybody to be happy…”

Which is, of course, absolutely impossible.

Kevin DeYoung cautions, “You may have a reputation for being the nicest person in the world because the operating principle in your heart is to have a reputation for being the nicest person in the world. Not only is that a manifestation of pride and therefore a sin; it also makes our lives miserable (living and dying by the approval of others), and it usually hurts those who are closest to us (who get what’s left over of our time and energy after we try to please everyone else).” 

Grace is Jesus plus nothing. 

So let’s not add to that, ok?  Our job is to be faithful to the call. God’s job is what happens next.

Can you live out grace, not contingent on how people respond?

Only if your identity is as a beloved servant. 

under the mercy, Cindy

©2017 Lucinda Secrest McDowell

Website/Blog 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!

Order my book  “Dwelling Places” from Amazon HERE under $10

Order my book  “Dwelling Places” from ChristianBook HERE under $10

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What I Promised All My Children

What I Promised All My Children

Lucinda Secrest McDowell

I prayed a dedication over each of my children – that they would know God and that He would always guide and protect them throughout life.

From then on, my role as a mama was to hold on loosely, even when I wanted to squeeze tight.

Long ago I promised all four of them (and eventually my two sons-in-law as well) that by the time they awakened each morning, I would have already prayed for them by name.

My mother-heart gift to them forever.

Sometimes friends comment on how spread out my children are now – doing amazing things all over the world. I reply, “Well, if you raise your children to become adventurous, don’t be surprised if they live an adventure!”

Long ago God promised to “pour out my Spirit on your descendants, and my blessing on your children.” (Isaiah 44.3)

But what is a comfort to me might be a great puzzle for those whose children are far from God right now.

Are you thirsty for the spiritual life of your family members?

Monica’s heart was broken as only a Christian mother’s heart can be. When her son reached adolescence he began to follow in the footsteps of his pagan, lustful, violent father. She wanted to see him settling down with a godly wife, but instead he moved in with a mistress and they had a son. Monica begged her son to join the church and take hold of the life-changing truths of Christ, but instead he fell in with a cult and dabbled in dark heresies.

The young man moved to Rome and when his mother tried to follow him, he tricked her into missing the boat. He thought he could escape her, but he didn’t realize the power of her prayers and perseverance. This mother prayed for fifteen years and every day she went to church to pour out her heart to God.

Monica never lost confidence that her prayers for her son would be answered.

Finally the young man repented and gave his life to Christ. Augustine’s faithful mother, Monica, lived from 331-387 AD, and her son is known today as Saint Augustine.

Because of a mother’s prayers this brilliant theologian’s passion for God and profound spiritual wisdom shaped the entire course of Western civilization.

The young man himself later wrote in his “Confessions” some of his own experience of God’s pursuit during his youth: “Too late I loved Thee, O Thou Beauty of ancient days, yet ever new! Too late I love Thee! And behold, Thou wert within, and I abroad, and there I searched for Thee… Thou calledst, and shoutedst, and burstest my deafness. Thou flashedst, shonest, and scatteredst my blindness. I tasted, and hunger and thirst. Thou touchedst me, and I burned for Thy peace.”

God provided Living Water to quench the thirst of this wayward young man.

Will you keep praying and trusting and persevering for your descendants?

The story is not over yet.

This Mother’s Day why not give your children (and grands) the best gift ever – daily prayer on their behalf to the One who knows them best and loves them most?

under the mercy, Cindy

With GRATITUDE for the special ones I’ve been privileged to MOTHER through the years. Happy Mothering Day!

Happy Mother’s Day and Happy 90th Birthday to My Sweet Mama – Sarah Secrest

This year both of my daughters will be celebrating Mother’s Day – they are incredible Mamas…

©2017 Lucinda Secrest McDowell

Website/Blog 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!

Order my book  “Dwelling Places” from Amazon HERE under $10

Order my book  “Dwelling Places” from ChristianBook HERE under $10

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