Reading GRACE to You ~ a Confession, a Dedication and an Introduction 

Reading GRACE to You ~ a Confession, a Dedication and an Introduction

Lucinda Secrest McDowell

Everyone loves a gift!

And God has given us so many, including His GRACE – the gift we don’t deserve and can never earn. He declares we are already loved, already accepted, already created in His image.

The question becomes, will we truly receive the gift? Will the reality of it actually change the way we think and notice and reach out?

Yesterday I opened a gift which has been a lifetime in coming —  the hot-off-the-press first copy of my new book Ordinary Graces – Word Gifts for Any Season.” Hubby grabbed the video and caught my EXCITEMENT in seeing the finished product here

Q ~ Tell us about your new book.

“Ordinary Graces” offers 120 daily devotions that are simultaneously short yet deep. Each of the four sections – Grace, Strength, Gratitude and Life – reveal a variety of biblical words through story, study and practical help that prompt the reader to find courage, deepen faith, reach out to others and celebrate with gratitude. Readers will especially enjoy the flexibility of choosing any word in any season, covered on two pages.

Q ~ Who did you write this book for?

“Ordinary Graces” is written for women and men of all ages who are eager to know God better and to understand all He gives for navigating life today. Busy people who can mine the depths of just one word a day filled with grace and wisdom. Those who enjoy nuggets of truth from a variety of sources, as I include many quotes from writers through the ages. It’s also for that person who wants to touch base with God each day, but is not sure where to begin.

Q ~ What is the overall theme?

“From His fullness we have all received grace upon grace.” John 1.16    Last year’s devotional with Abingdon Press was “Dwelling Places” where I featured words that draw us closer into the presence of God – words that evoke peace and serenity, refuge and hope. In “Ordinary Graces” I introduce words that convey the many gifts God bestows on us – grace gifts that will help strengthen our souls and provide courage to live adventurously. Gifts just waiting to be received, unwrapped and incorporated into our hearts, souls and compassionate actions.  What wonderful words are included here – beloved, treasure, worthy, rescue, endurance, kindness, story, promises, real, footsteps, overflow, wise and encourage.

Do you have a few more minutes? Then, may I please READ TO YOU, beginning with a confession that started it all, a dedication to my readers, and the first page all about ordinary graces?

I am embarking on a Fabulous Fall — speaking just about every weekend on God’s grace gifts for us all. Check out my Schedule Here – sure would love to see you face-to-face…

Meanwhile, many THANKS to these outstanding authors who agreed to read “Ordinary Graces” this summer and share with you what they thought of the book. I am humbled…

“Lucinda’s gift is that she plays richly the full octave of life — she can reach toward the sanctified high notes, and half a sentence later, draw us into the depths of the blessedly human heart and soul. It’s her fluid interplay of light and shadow, high and low that makes her a maestro. She lays bare hurt and heartache, struggles and strain — striking a deep common chord, a sense of simpatico — and then, before we finish the next in-breath, she fills us with reason for hope, for healing, she fills us with sustenance. Ordinary Graces and the extraordinary Lucinda Secrest McDowell belong tucked close to the heart. She opens Scripture, draws me in to its sumptuous folds, like no one I know. She is pure love — and her words, and her heart, come filled with a tenderness you never want to let go.”  – Barbara Mahany, author of Motherprayer and Slowing Time
“Both eloquent and profound, Ordinary Graces will infuse your heart with wonder through  a fresh take on ancient words. Lucinda excavates and lays bare the hidden riches of a single word, proving that the riches are stored in the secret places (Isaiah 45:3), not to be skimmed off the top by the casual observer, but mined from the deep.” –  Jennifer Kennedy Dean, Executive Director of The Praying Life Foundation, author of Live a Praying Life ®
 “Ordinary Graces is filled with sweet surprises.  Lucinda Secrest McDowell presents her readers with one powerful word gift a day.  She skillfully defines it within a biblical context, and then challenges us to take an action step.  This devotional will transform the way you live each day.  I highly recommend it!” – Carol Kent, speaker and author He Holds My Hand 
“When I buy a devotional, I want to know that I’m getting profound insights that are theologically grounded, yet relatable to my everyday, ordinary life. That’s exactly what Lucinda Secret McDowell offers in Ordinary Graces. I wanted to underline something in every paragraph, and I found myself reflecting on her words when I went about my day as a mom and a wife. This beautiful devotional will minister to your heart and lead you straight to the source of all grace: Jesus.” – Jennifer Dukes Lee, author of The Happiness Dare and Love Idol
 “Little did Lucinda Secrest McDowell know that my ‘life verse’ is John 1:16: ‘For of His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.’ In Ordinary Graces, Lucinda has conveyed the strategic importance of looking for and finding God’s grace in our everyday lives. His grace does transform our lives. Gently. Tenderly. Wonderfully. The words she has chosen are exquisitely real and important to my life—and yours. Indulge in the grace-filled truth she is sharing. Take it for yourself.”  – Ruth Graham,author In Every Pew Sits a Broken Heart
“Whether read one day at a time or in a season of refreshing, Ordinary Graces by Lucinda Secrest McDowell offers focused reflection on key, attitude-altering words. McDowell’s interweaving of quotes from other thoughtful considerers adds even more depth to the beautifully expressed ponderings.”  – Cynthia Ruchti, author Mornings With Jesus and As My Parents Age
“In Ordinary Graces, Lucinda skillfully guides us through a daily word that will help us begin to comprehend the unfathomable grace of God.  Practical and powerful, this book will be a recurring reminder to readers of all ages of just how much God favors us and wants us to excel through His love.” – Deborah Smith Pegues, bestselling author of 30 Days to Taming Your Tongue
“Ordinary Graces is an excellent short daily devotional, including Scripture and practical ways to put the presence of God in the forefront of our day. Each day features a word we use in our everyday lives which Lucinda Secrest McDowell knows how to capture in an excellent illustration.  She writes beautifully and succinctly of the things we need to hear, usually with some humor and sharing a fascinating story. At the end of each day’s devotion, she writes a short intimate message from God to us, always aligned with the truths of Scripture. I highly recommend this book for anyone seeking to grow in knowing God.” – Valerie Elliot Shepard, author Devotedly, Jim (letters of Jim & Elisabeth Elliot)
“What a delight to slow down for a few minutes of quiet with this beautifully written devotional, Ordinary Graces.  In a world of hurry, Lucinda’s words remind us there is grace and strength available if we will just stop to receive.  Each day’s reading will speak to you from Scripture and change your life for the better.”  – Arlene Pellicane, author of Calm, Cool, and Connected
“In the beginning was the Word … and there were words … and they all had meaning and they were good for the spirit of man. And then Lucinda Secrest McDowell came along and took ordinary words and ushered in ordinary graces. These are the words you’d expect in a book such as this, words like gift and life. But there are also words one doesn’t expect, words like broken and anger. And perhaps my favorite word of all, sleep. In Ordinary Graces, Lucinda gives us a glimpse of the ordinary to the extraordinary, highlights of her heart, and moments within the heart of God. Close enough to hear His heartbeat.” – Eva Marie Everson, CBA Bestselling Author, President, Word Weavers International
“Ordinary Graces is the sort of book I can return to again and again for wise and gracious words that encourage, challenge, inspire, and comfort. A feast for the soul.” – Sharon Garlough Brown, author Sensible Shoes novel series
“Author Lucinda Secrest McDowell has given us an extraordinary book with her newest release, Ordinary Graces, Word Gifts for Any Season. Although this wonderful resource is one you’ll always want close at hand, it’s also one that you’ll find yourself sharing with those you meet who need encouragement and hope. McDowell is an author you’ll turn to again and again when you’re looking to connect with our Heavenly Father in a deeper, more intimate way. Truly a book that is a gift to us all.” – Edie Melson, Award Winning Author, Blogger, and Speaker
“Lucinda always brings me to a place  closer to God, deeper in the Word, happier in relationships and more joyful in life with Ordinary Graces.” – Pam Farrel, author of 45 books including Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti and 7 Simple Skills for Every Woman
“We all want to do something great for God. Ordinary Graces reminds us that we can miss the extraordinary hand of God in the everyday practices of life. Through Scripture, thoughtful illustrations, and compelling questions, Lucinda Secrest McDowell reminds us to discover grace in the abundant life we already have.” – Melissa Spoelstra, author Total Family Makeover
“With warmth and wit Lucinda McDowell befriends us readers and shows us how to notice God’s graces and promises in the everyday circumstances all around us in Ordinary Graces. You will find scholarly insight and encouragement from each devotional reading from this masterful writer.”  – Janet Holm McHenry, author of 20 books including the best-selling PrayerWalk 
“Lucinda Secrest McDowell follows her award-winning, impactful devotional, Dwelling Places with the next installment, Ordinary Graces. Full of moving quotes and interesting stories, the new devotional has pithy images that stay with you, like “Kevan wasn’t your typical twenty-something taking a backpacking trip to Europe. He was actually in the backpack.” Her words often challenge you to cling to God — “I shall trust in the slow work of God”– and to live out your faith. If you like devotionals, start with Dwelling Places, and make your way to Ordinary Graces.” – Tessa Afshar, author Bread of Angels
“Proverbs speaks of the goodness of a word shared in due season. Ordinary Graces exemplifies this truth with beautiful words of hope and life for whatever season you face. Each devotion left me feeling inspired and encouraged. A truly worthwhile read.”  – Jen Weaver, author A Wife’s Secret to Happiness

Writing is a joy but it is also hard work. There are two pages in the back of “Ordinary Graces” to express all my “Gratitudes” to those who helped. 

And to YOU, my readers, THANK YOU for continuing to read this blog, my books and to listen when I speak. I am humbled. I am grateful.

For you are a true GRACE GIFT to me…

under the mercy, Cindy

©2017 Lucinda Secrest McDowell – adapted from Ordinary Graces (Abingdon Press)

Pre-Order “Ordinary Graces” today from Cokesbury ($10)

Pre- Order “Ordinary Graces” today from ChristianBook ($11)

Pre-Order “Ordinary Graces” today from Amazon ($15)

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!

Website/Blog www.EncouragingWords.net

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But What If God Doesn’t Answer Your Prayers?

But What if God Doesn’t Answer Your Prayers?

Lucinda Secrest McDowell

Perhaps you are one of those people whose recent prayers were not answered.

Or at least not answered in the way they had hoped. Their home was still destroyed in the hurricane. They didn’t get the job. They still miscarried. And no, chemotherapy has not healed their cancer.

What do we do when we feel God hasn’t answered our prayers?

Well I distinctly remember hanging up the phone and crying…

That answer was not the one I had hoped for. Prayed for.

I wanted “yes.” Would have settled for “wait.” But what I got was “no.”

I had followed Paul’s instructions: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers.” (Philippians 4.6)  But how could I take the hardest step of all, to “thank him for his answers?” 

Yes, even if it wasn’t the answer I wanted. The one I needed.

I have lived my entire life on these words today from God’s Word. In fact, I memorized this same translation as a teenager with my brand new dark green Living Bible. “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything;”  

What are you worried about today?

Okay, go ahead and write down three of your current concerns.

  1. _______________________________________________
  2. _______________________________________________
  3. _______________________________________________

Now, what would happen if you chose instead of worrying, to pray about them? Go ahead, do it. Offer each one to God in prayer.

A great model for life.

But only if we always end our prayers with “Thy will be done.” After all, that’s how Jesus taught us to pray. After being very specific about our wants, our needs, our great concerns, we then relinquish all that into the powerful and worthy hands of our Savior. Allowing Him to answer in His way and His timing.

Because, we really do want His will to be done. And even if we think we know exactly the path that should take, we must hold our expectations very loosely.

When I was much younger, Elisabeth Elliot once encouraged me to tell God everything I was feeling about His answers to my prayers. She pointed out that He already knew anyway. But she warned me to share with others discreetly; “God can take it — others sometimes can’t.”

From what she had shared, I knew that even this strong woman of God occasionally struggled with getting a disappointing answer to prayer as she told me,  “I have often asked why. Many things have happened which I didn’t plan on and which human rationality could not explain. In the darkness of my perplexity and sorrow I have heard Him say quietly, Trust Me. He knew that my question was not the challenge of unbelief or resentment. I have never doubted that He loves me, but I have sometimes felt like St. Teresa of Avila who, when she was dumped out of a carriage into a ditch, said, ‘If this is the way You treat Your friends, no wonder You have so few!'” (Elisabeth Elliot)

In the Old Testament God, through the prophet Jeremiah, not only encouraged us to cry out to Him, but assured us that He would always answer. “Call to me and I will answer and reveal to you wondrous secrets that you haven’t known.” (Jeremiah 33.3)

That answer? The one you didn’t want? It may just contain a “wondrous secret” later to be revealed.

Trust Him and keep praying. Always with thanksgiving.

under the mercy, Cindy

©2017 Lucinda Secrest McDowell – adapted from Ordinary Graces (Abingdon Press)

Pre-Order “Ordinary Graces” today from Cokesbury ($10)

Pre- Order “Ordinary Graces” today from ChristianBook ($11)

Pre-Order “Ordinary Graces” today from Amazon ($15)

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!

Website/Blog www.EncouragingWords.net

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What Have You Got to Lose?

What Have You Got to Lose?

Lucinda Secrest McDowell

               “All I can offer you is a chance to die.”

These are the terms outlined by Amy Carmichael as she responded to letters from English women who were considering missionary life with her India. In 1903, rescuing young girls from temple prostitution was groundbreaking early work in human trafficking.

Challenging. Dangerous. Humbling.

Yet Amy served there for fifty-five years without a furlough, establishing the Dohnavur Fellowship, which housed nine hundred children at the time of her death in 1951. These wounded and broken children called her “Amma,” the Tamil word for “Mother.”

Amy Carmichael understood the paradox in Jesus’ words: “If you try to hang onto your life, you will lose it.  But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.” (Luke 9:24) Early in her missionary career, when crossed by a coworker, she had clearly heard the voice of God before she reacted in defense: “See in this a chance to die.” And thus began her journey of dying to self in order to give life to others.

In the middle of her vibrant ministry, Amy suffered a fall and was bedridden the last half of her life. She kept her windows and doors constantly open to the children, and she wrote volumes of poetry. (The epigraphs for sections in both my books Ordinary Graces and Dwelling Places are from Amy Carmichael’s poems.)

In today’s verse,  Jesus is reminding us that as we release with open hands of surrender, we will be filled with grace gifts we never dared hope for. Give up your perceived right to control; and discover that God’s sovereignty will orchestrate everything better than you possibly imagined.

Early missionaries did not pack trunks as they set off on long voyages across the world to take the gospel to hidden tribes. Instead, they each packed a coffin, one that would eventually be used to bury them in their new land. What does this say about commitment? They knew their venture would end in death, yet they still chose to do it—the loss was worth the hopeful kingdom gain.

Flannery O’Connor once said, “What people don’t realize is how much religion costs. They think faith is a big electric blanket, when of course it is the cross.”

Do you realize that every gain comes through loss?

I am writing these words on the thirty-fifth anniversary of the death of a young wife and mother of three. What a loss this was to all who loved and needed her.

But it was my eventual gain. Only God.

Three years after her death, I received a priceless gift when I went to court in Seattle and adopted those three precious children. They have filled this mama’s life with more joy, purpose, on-my-knees-prayer, and hopes than you can imagine.

“The only way anyone gets to adoption is through a door of loss and unless you fully feel the depth of that loss, the door you’re walking through leads to nowhere honest.” (Ann Voskamp)

What are we willing to lose in order to know Him more fully? Our reputation? Our stuff? Our control? Our own dreams?

Only God.

under the mercy, Cindy

©2017 Lucinda Secrest McDowell in Ordinary Graces (Abingdon Press)

Pre-Order “Ordinary Graces” today from Cokesbury ($10)

Pre- Order “Ordinary Graces” TODAY from ChristianBook ($11)

Pre-Order “Ordinary Graces” today from Amazon ($15)

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!

Website/Blog www.EncouragingWords.net

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What I Learned When Mama and Daddy Crushed My Childhood Dreams

What I Learned When Mama and Daddy Crushed My Childhood Dreams

Lucinda Secrest McDowell

50 years ago this summer I met my childhood idol — Hayley Mills.

We were both aboard the final voyage of that great ocean liner, “Queen Elizabeth.” It was a heady moment, I assure you. And, of course I have a “selfie” to commemorate it.

For those of you too young to remember, Hayley Mills was the Disney darling who starred in many films such as Pollyanna and The Parent Trap.

Not only was I a fan and admired her, I actually wanted to be her.

To the extent that for at least a year I styled my hair the same as she did in Pollyanna and even wore drop waisted dresses with black stockings. Oh yeah.

One day, at age ten, I sat down and wrote Hayley Mills a letter. I had decided if I couldn’t be her, I could possibly be the next best thing – a child movie star. But I needed her advice…

I began (as any good fan letter does) with a full-on gush – “You are my favorite movie star!” and continued on to the meat of the matter… “How do you become a movie star? I want to be one while I am a child.”

Then, of course, I listed a few credentials to impress her: “When our school has plays or recitals I always join in. I’m not scared to go on stage at all. I’ve been the leading part on most of my plays. I’m not bragging, I just want some tips on acting. I can sing, act, and dance. I’ve been taking music for 2 years.”

Wow. Two whole years of music lessons! Now that I had her attention and formed a kindred spirit bond, we could get to a few more details… “You’ve sent lots of my friends postcards and pictures. But I want and need a long letter from you.”

There you go. Surely Hayley would begin to open doors to my new career as a child movie star! What with all that talent and experience why I might even give her some competition for the next Disney movie…

Nonetheless, my insecurity resurrected as I prepared my closing and I was not too proud to beg. “Please, I want to be a young movie star so bad. Please write me a long letter. Your best of friends, Cindy Secrest, 10 years old.”

I know you are waiting on the edge of your seat to discover what kind of reply I received from Hayley Mills. The answer is – nothing.

But since I have in my hand a faded and wrinkled piece of paper that looks strangely like the original I asked my parents to mail, I can only surmise that, due to not knowing her address, they absent mindedly tucked it into a file somewhere only to be retrieved a few decades later.

I don’t blame Mama and Daddy for singlehandedly putting the kibosh on all my child acting dreams. I’m not bitter.

When I met Hayley Mills on the “Queen Elizabeth” I was a young teenager coming home from the London sights of Carnaby Street and Abbey Road, Twiggy and the Beatles. I was way too cool to ask her for acting tips… (early selfie to the left here)

Half a century offers valuable perspective.

You see, God had other plans for that bold, outspoken, singing, dancing, acting character who was never afraid to go on stage.

I kept pursuing dreams. I tried on a few hats – some were a terrible fit and others stayed on for awhile. And the whole time I was dancing through life I wrote things down. On lined paper. In journals. Using a large print typewriter Daddy gave me. Using a flair pen. In letters and cards. And eventually on that marvelous invention – a personal computer! I also found myself on stage occasionally and discovered that when Holy Spirit power poured through me I was in a personal “sweet spot” – sharing stories and words of encouragement.

What sage advice would I give that 10 year old Cindy Secrest?

  • Keep writing letters to anyone you wish – always begin with praise and don’t hesitate to ask questions. What’s the worst that can happen? If they say no, move on.
  • Realize that some letters you write are best never mailed.
  • Always ask yourself the motivating factor for why you want to be or do something that has any amount of fame involved. You might need to recalculate…
  • If you aren’t afraid to be on stage or speak into a microphone, that doesn’t necessarily make you brave — it’s probably just the way God wired you.
  • Be willing to adjust your goals and dreams as experience, mistakes, victories and critique help show you who you truly are.
  • When you look back over a lifetime, thank God for the unique way He created you and seek with all your heart to honor Him in all your pursuits. If that happens to include music, stories, and the occasional stage, then honey, give it all you got!

under the mercy, Cindy

©2017 Lucinda Secrest McDowell 

Would you enjoy reading “Dwelling Places”  this summer? It was just awarded Christian Retailing Best Award for Devotional – voted by the bookselling/publishing industry professionals.

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

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

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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Need the Breath of Life?

Need the Breath of Life?

Lucinda Secrest McDowell

Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.”  Ezekiel 37.5-6 ESV

I don’t know what it feels like to die. But I have occasionally felt like “all of my bones are out of joint.” (Psalm 20.14)

Is there any hope for those in such a place?

Today’s verse is a marvelous example of God making the impossible possible when He caused mere bones to come to life.

Ezekiel was a prophet among the people of Israel who were spiritually dead. They were disobedient, desolate and divided. Restoration seemed impossible.

But in this vision, God’s power alone revived a people who had lost all hope in the flames of an enemy attack.

Are you in a similar position of wasting away or rattling around?

If so, be encouraged today that your new life depends solely on God’s breath, not the world’s battles.

He breathed and those bones lived and knew the one true Lord. Will you?

Lord, when I feel dead, help me trust the Spirit’s breath of life. 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

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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That Day I Answered the Phone and Discovered a Beautiful Gift

That Day I Answered the Phone and Discovered a Beautiful Gift

Lucinda Secrest McDowell

“Is this the author Lucinda Secrest McDowell?” came the lovely southern voice at the other end of the phone.

I had been tempted not to answer. In my daily ritual of decompressing after a busy day at high school, I was sitting on the porch, drinking strong Earl Grey tea and — to be honest —  feeling a bit discouraged.

“Yes…. this is Lucinda,” I tentatively answered.

Artists Kristina & Polly Jo

Polly Jo introduced herself as one of my readers from Raleigh, North Carolina and then spent the next few minutes saying how much my one-word-a-day devotional “Dwelling Places” was ministering to heart and soul.

“In fact, my dear friend Kristina and I have just finished art-journaling all 40 of your words from the Lenten section ‘Renew,’” she concluded.

“Why that’s amazing! I’m not really even sure what art-journaling is,” I confessed.

“After reading that day’s devotion, we sit with the word, meditate on it, and then creatively pull in all kinds of mixed media to portray our thoughts and promptings as a picture in our journals,” Polly Jo explained. “Would you like to see some of our pages from those words?”

Of course I would. And when she sent them to me, they were exquisite expressions of how God had reached into the soul of a teachable woman and prodded her with One Simple Word.

How could I not share some of Polly Jo and Kristina’s creations with YOU, my readers? Here are a few from ‘Renew’ section.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then, in late May I received word that these precious Raleigh women had decided to spend this summer going through the ‘Grow’ section of  “Dwelling Places” and art-journaling each word.  So here are a few from this summer.

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t you just love how God created us all so uniquely – with gifts that compliment one another? Gifts that differ and yet are used to help build the Body of Christ?

I am so grateful that my two new friends – Polly Jo and Kristina – followed the prompting of the Holy Spirit to call a complete stranger and thank her for writing a book that is being used in their lives.

Do you even know how humbling this is for me?

And another thing, after a school day with noisy teenagers, when I am out on my screen porch during Quiet Tea Time, if you ring me, I promise to Answer the Phone!

Because one never knows when God will send a whisper that sounds so much like, “Cindy, yes, you are living in the Right Story I have for you… Keep going…”

“For we are God’s MASTERPIECE. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can DO THE GOOD THINGS he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2.10 NLT

under the mercy, Cindy

©2017 Lucinda Secrest McDowell 

One of these artists offers beautiful Notecards and Art Journeys – check out www.PollyJoGreen.com 

Would you enjoy reading and perhaps even art- journaling “Dwelling Places”  this summer? It was just awarded Christian Retailing Best Award for Devotional – voted by the bookselling/publishing industry professionals, which is miraculous in itself (being my 12th book and first book award, smile).

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

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

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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A Mama’s Choice

A  Mama’s Choice

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell

A few years ago my eldest daughter chose life – to become a mother. And it caused me to 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.

Our 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?

And 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.

Eventually, 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:

  • Promotes 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 grandchildren close, I believe this with all my heart.*

under the mercy, Cindy

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

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