Is There Any Quiet in Manhattan?

Is There Any Quiet in Manhattan?

Lucinda Secrest McDowell

After only one day of navigating New York City I am exhausted.

A cacophony of sounds – horns, yells, loud music. A mass of humanity – crushing crowds, tourists stopped in the middle of the sidewalk, homeless veterans. A tangle of transportation – first the train, then subway, boat, bus and subway again.

By the time the A Train spits me out at my kids’ apartment in upper Manhattan, I desperately need a respite. A strong cup of hot tea, feet propped up on a stool and the cool breeze of the air conditioner revive me for the next step. I’m ready to venture with my daughter and granddog across the street.

To the park.

Truly an oasis among the high rise buildings. Greenery against the gray. Upon entering, I feel transformed into a calmer, gentler person. One who ambles slowly down the paths and finds delight when the dog stops at every bush. Why not stop? We are not in a hurry here.

I am grateful that a hundred years ago John D. Rockefeller purchased this land and hired Frederick Law Olmstead to design Fort Tryon Park. This city park boasts one of the most unspoiled views of the Hudson River as well as eight miles of walking paths along a rocky topography.  Today our path ends at The Cloisters, a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art made up of French monastery courtyards.

Even Jesus reinforced this need in all of us and urged his busy disciples, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.”  Mark 6.31 NLT

God longs to meet us daily in such a place.

Whether we live in the midst of the city, the country or somewhere in between. We all need to choose an oasis – a place apart where we can go to be still and listen.

under the mercy, Lucinda

“Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity and Strength”

©2018 Lucinda Secrest McDowell        http://www.EncouragingWords.net 

Today’s blog is adapted from one of my devotionals in the new book “Let the Earth Rejoice” – 365 daily devotions celebrating God’s Creation!  ORDER your own hardcover copy here ($10.99)

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 New Devotionals “Ordinary Graces” ($8.79) or “Dwelling Places” ($10.99) at ChristianBook.com — best price online!

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A Lifetime of Help

A Lifetime of Help

 Lucinda Secrest McDowell

When in doubt, read the Psalms.  This amazing book is found smack dab in the middle of your Bible and I suspect that if you open it every day, God will have a Good Word for you — one relevant and appropriate for whatever you are facing.

I especially love the poetry and prayer and praise of the psalms.

Today I was reading Psalm 71 — thankful for God’s Help through the years… “Those who pray the psalms are aware that, in spite of their own infidelities to God over the years, God has nonetheless remained faithful. Second century Bishop Polycarp, when pressured to either renounce his faith or die a violent death, said ‘For eighty-six years have I served Him, and He has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme the King who saved me?‘” (Christ in the Psalms by Patrick Henry Reardon) 

Here are some of my own thoughts as I work through Psalm 71…

SAFETY

1 O Lord, I have come to you for protection; don’t let me be disgraced. 2 Save me and rescue me, for you do what is right. Turn your ear to listen to me, and set me free. Is there a situation or habit in your life right now that you desperately need to be freed from? Are you fearful of the consequences of threatening circumstances (or even people) in your life? May I suggest that when these times come, we also turn to God for protection and pray these verses.

SEASONS

9 And now, in my old age, don’t set me aside. Don’t abandon me when my strength is failing. 10 For my enemies are whispering against me. They are plotting together to kill me. 11 They say, “God has abandoned him. Let’s go and get him, for no one will help him now.” Are you simply exhausted from the battles of life? Are you in a season where body, mind and soul are beginning to weaken in some ways? Do you ever feel like a forgotten person, as if no one knows what you are going through and worse, no one cares? Be careful, because in such fragile seasons, we leave a crack in our spiritual armor for the enemy to come and inflict great harm on us emotionally and spiritually. If you are at such a point in life, send up what I like to call an ‘arrow prayer’ 12 O God, don’t stay away. My God, please hurry to help me.

SAY SO!

14 But I will keep on hoping for your help; I will praise you more and more. 15 I will tell everyone about your righteousness. All day long I will proclaim your saving power, though I am not skilled with words. 16 I will praise your mighty deeds, O Sovereign Lord. I will tell everyone that you alone are just. In the midst of challenging circumstances we can choose to trust in God’s Help and be people of Hope. Are you going to give up or will you live out your faith in a radical way by choosing to Thank God privately and to publicly pronounce His faithfulness and goodness in your life? Do you think others are watching as you go through tough times? What words do they hear from you?

SONS (and DAUGHTERS too)

18 Now that I am old and gray, do not abandon me, O God. Let me proclaim your power to this new generation, your mighty miracles to all who come after me. If you have been blessed with years, then what shall you do with your status today in a world that worships youth? Be a wise woman or a mentoring man. Don’t focus on what you have lost, but make every opportunity to declare what God has done in your long life! The greatest gift we can ever give a younger generation (and certainly our own sons and daughters) is to recount God’s faithfulness and provision in the hard times of our lives. This is a testimony they cannot ignore. What story of seeing God’s miraculous hand at work will you tell a new generation today?

SUFFERING

20 You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but you will restore me to life again and lift me up from the depths of the earth. 21 You will restore me to even greater honor and comfort me once again. I know there has been suffering in your life, and you might even be going through some right now. But do you believe that God can truly Restore and Lift and Comfort you? This is a biblical promise from Psalm 71 and I hope each of us can pray these verses today, knowing that He is able to meet us in our deepest place, and not leave us there.

SHOUT

23 I will shout for joy and sing your praises, for you have ransomed me. 24 I will tell about your righteous deeds all day long, for everyone who tried to hurt me has been shamed and humiliated. And this is how the psalm ends – with shouting! And singing for joy at what God has done in our lives! We may not live to see our ‘enemies’ thwarted, but each of us who has read the whole Bible knows the ending — God Wins! So why not tell about God’s righteous deeds ‘all day long’? Sure, you can do it in subtle ways at work, or you can seek to comfort others with the comfort you received by sharing a prayer or verse that helped you. There are many ways to shout and sing with both sensitivity and substance. Just remember, we only have this one day to glorify God.

Will we be like the anonymous psalmist here and leave a legacy of PRAISE?

under the mercy, Lucinda

“Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity and Strength”

©2018 Lucinda Secrest McDowell        http://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 New Devotionals “Ordinary Graces” ($8.79) or “Dwelling Places” ($10.99) at ChristianBook.com — best price online!

 

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Focused Living… in a World of Distraction

Focused Living… in a World of Distraction

Lucinda Secrest McDowell

Home after a season of travel, I find myself  playing major Catch-Up on everything from correspondence to housework to seasonal decorations (I think now that Easter is over the neighbors might appreciate it if I take the Christmas balls off the small tree in our front yard… Ya think?) 

The day is wide open but I can’t seem to settle — too many distractions. No sooner have I tackled one project than another calls my name and I’m off…

What are your greatest distractions? For me, sometimes it’s in the juggling of too many things at one time – which has a 21st century term now. According to New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, “continuous partial attention means that while you are answering your email and talking to your kid, your cell phone rings and you have a conversation. You are now involved in a continual flow of interactions in which you can only partially concentrate on each . . . You’re never out anymore. The assumption is now that you’re always in . . . And when you’re always in, you are always on. And when you are always on, what are you most like? A computer server.”

Well, I am not a computer — I am a person! And though the lines between “much” and “meaningful” have blurred quite a bit, I am seeking clarity by fixing my eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of my faith.” Hebrews 12.2.

Do you also find it hard to focus in a world full of distraction? Personally, I hate to be talking to someone when their eyes are constantly darting around the room in search of a more interesting diversion. Their actions cause me to feel unimportant and even unnecessary. Are you “continually partially attentive” to a lot without being fully focused on anything? Have you finished reading one whole book lately? When did you last sit down for a period of time and look into your child or friend or spouse’s eyes and really listen to what they had to say? And, oh by the way, what scripture penetrated your heart this week from your devotions or worship or class – do you even remember it?

The word ‘distraction’ comes from the Latin distractus which literally means “to draw or pull apart.” In his book The Attentive Life, Leighton Ford says “It can have a very innocuous sense: a distraction can be an amusement or diversion that relaxes us. But more seriously a distraction is a pull away from what deep down we know is our most fundamental goal, purpose or direction. When we are distracted, we are often confused by conflicting emotions or worries. The more ‘noise’ that surrounds us, the more we absorb, the more likely we are to be distractible, our attention readily diverted and restless, and the more vulnerable we become to all the distractions around.”

Being distracted is not new to our day and age. My friend, Miriam Huffman Rockness, in her wonderful biography Passion for the Impossible, described Lilias Trotter who lived a life of art, privilege and leisure in London more than a hundred years ago. Even art critic John Ruskin enthusiastically proclaimed her as one of the best artists of the 19th century. But Lilias’ devotion to Christ compelled her to abandon that world for an entirely different life in Algeria, North Africa. There her love of literature and art became dynamic tools for evangelism and her compassionate lifestyle of love and encouragement captured the hearts of the Muslim people for 40 years.

Trotter’s struggle (and eventual victory) in the whole area of finding focus inspired these words by hymnist Helen Lemmel in 1922: Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace”.

Maybe it’s time for the things of the earth to grow strangely dim in my own life…

Lilias Trotter was quick to say that it is easy to find out whether our lives are focused, and if so, where the focus lies. “Where do our thoughts settle when consciousness comes back in the morning? Where do they swing back when the pressure is off during the day? Does this test not give the clue? Then dare to have it out with God. Dare to lay bare your whole life and being before Him, and ask Him to show you whether or not all is focused on Christ and His glory. Dare to face the fact that unfocused, good and useful as it may seem, it will prove to have failed of its purpose.”

Since I’m basically a practical person, I therefore need practical ways to combat the whole sense of too-much-to-do-and-not-enough-of-me. How do I fix my eyes on the meaningful and take them off the much? Years ago I developed a system to help me in this struggle; I call it “selective neglect.” Knowing that I can’t do everything in front of me, even everything good, I make a deliberate decision what I will not do. In other words, I decide to selectively neglect something so that I can deliberately focus on the more important task or situation or person at hand.

For instance, any given day I might have a list of ten very good and worthy things to do, but that’s not even bringing into account unforeseen interruptions which can also be of God. So, as part of my morning prayers I offer up my agenda to God and ask that He guide me in the essentials, leaving the rest for another day or (heaven forbid) another one of His servants to cover. That leaves me with perhaps two or three ‘must dos’ and the rest only ‘possibilities’. Knowing my limitations, I wouldn’t have been able to get to it all by the end of the day anyway, so why not let me be the one to decide what will be neglected?

Our friend, Lilias Trotter, illustrated this principle many years ago when she said “What does this focusing mean? Study the matter and you will see that it means two things–gathering in all that can be gathered, and letting the rest drop. You have to choose which you will fix your gaze upon and let the other go.”

My prayer for you (and me) today: “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so you may know what is the hope  of His calling, what are the glorious riches of His inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power to us who believe, according to the working of His vast strength.” Ephesians 1.18-19

under the mercy, Lucinda

“Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity and Strength”

©2018 Lucinda Secrest McDowell        http://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 New Devotionals “Ordinary Graces” or “Dwelling Places” HERE for under $10 each!

 

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What He Did

 What He Did

 Lucinda Secrest McDowell

 I still cannot believe what He did.

For me.

holyweekpalmsundayThis is Holy Week. It began a few days ago as Christians all around the world celebrated Palm Sunday – a commemoration of that day when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey to the cheers and adulation of crowds waving palm branches and singing “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord.”

In mere days those cheers turned into the jeers of angry crowds shouting “Crucify Him.”

I can relate to fickleness. Even in my faith life. Most of the time I am gregarious and sold out for God, eager to play my small role in helping to further His kingdom. But sometimes my celebration turns into complaint, my litany into lethargy. While I don’t actually yell “Crucify Him” I do occasionally fall asleep in the garden…

How about you? What do you do in response to what He did? For us. In the Garden. On the Cross. At the Open Tomb.

In these next days we are called to Remember. To commemorate What He Did. I have gathered some favorite prayers and hymns and scripture to guide my journey through the Trisiduum (3 days) and hope you will join me in this Holy Time.

MAUNDY THURSDAY – March 29, 2018

Maundy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles. It is also the night on which Jesus was betrayed by Judas in the Garden of Gethsemane. The English word “Maundy” is derived from a Latin word meaning “mandate.” This refers to Christ’s words when he was explaining to His disciples in the Upper Room the significance of washing their feet, “A new commandment I give unto you, That you love one another; as I have loved you.” (John 13.34) As we remember this mandate to love, how will we respond?

holyweeklastsupper“Lord, How often when weary do we sigh ‘The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.’ How often when in prayer are thoughts distracted by sounds or circumstance or prayers diverted by trivial concerns. Baggage carried with us rather than left at Your feet. How often do we find ourselves apologizing to you for our abbreviated prayer life.  And yet You draw us still to be in Your presence as You did the disciples at Gethsemane. You want us to share in Your life to play our part. You told your disciples to watch and pray so that they might not fall into temptation. Do You ask the same of us and do we also fail You each time we whisper ‘The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.’ Grant us the strength, Lord of body and of spirit, to offer You the sacrifice of our lives. Amen.”   (faithandworship.com)

GOOD FRIDAY – March 30, 2018

Good Friday is the day we remember the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The hours of noon to 3 p.m. are particularly significant as these commemorate the time Jesus hung on the cross. It is a somber day and many choose to wear black to symbolize darkness and mourning.

  • “Most dear Jesus, condemned to death by an unjust Council, taken as an evildoer before Pilate, and ridiculed by the wicked Herod, have mercy on us, O Lord.
  • Most dear Jesus, publicly shorn of your garments, and most cruelly scourged at the pillar, have mercy on us, O Lord.
  • Most dear Jesus, crowned with thorns, beaten and blindfolded, clothed in rich purple and mocked, have mercy on us, O Lord.
  • easter scene with crown of thorns, hammer and nails with blood on sandMost dear Jesus, likened to the infamous Barabbas, rejected by your people, and unjustly sentenced to death, have mercy on us, O Lord.
  • Most dear Jesus, burdened with the weight of the Cross and led to the place of execution like a lamb to the slaughter, have mercy on us, O Lord.
  • Most dear Jesus, reckoned with the wicked, blasphemed, and derided, and given gall to drink to mitigate your pain, have mercy on us, O Lord.
  • Most dear Jesus, dying on the Cross, pierced with a lance that drew blood and water from your side, have mercy on us, O Lord.
  • Most dear Jesus, horribly bruised and marked with wounds, anointed for burial and placed in a tomb, have mercy on us, O Lord.
  • My Jesus, I thank you for dying on the Cross for my sins. Have mercy on us, O Lord. Amen.”

HOLY SATURDAY – March 31, 2018

This is a day to behold the body of Jesus in the tomb today, and to contemplate the mystery of our death in preparation for our hearts to receive the Good News of life.  We know that tomb will be empty and remain empty forever as a sign that our lives will not really end, but only be transformed. Our reflection on this Holy Saturday, and our anticipation of celebrating the gift of Life tomorrow, can bring immense peace and joy, powerful freedom and vitality to our lives.  For if we truly believe that death holds no true power over us, we can walk each day in the grace being offered us – to give our lives away in love. 

“For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Since we have been united with Him in his death, we will also be raised to life as He was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with Him. We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and He will never die again. Death no longer has any power over Him. When He died, He died once to break the power of sin. But now that He lives, He lives for the glory of God. So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6.4-11)

EASTER SUNDAY – April 1, 2018

He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!

Could there be any more hopeful and extraordinary words ever uttered on an early Sunday morning? Do you believe them? That Christ is Alive? And that He wants to fill you and me with His Life – empowering us to live as “Easter People” every single day?

“Christ is Risen: The world below lies desolate
Christ is Risen: The spirits of evil are fallen
Christ is Risen: The angels of God are rejoicing
Christ is Risen: The tombs of the dead are empty
Christ is Risen indeed from the dead,
the first of the sleepers,
Glory and power are His forever and ever. Amen.”
(Hippolytus of Rome, AD 190-236)

“Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.” (hymn “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” by Isaac Watts) Today will I yet again surrender to the Risen Christ…

  • My soul?
  • My life?
  • My all?

“O You Who Comes, Who are the hope of the world, give us hope. Give us hope that beyond the worst the world can do there is such a best that not even the world can take it from us, hope that none whom You have loved is ever finally lost, not even to death.

 O You Who Died  in loneliness and pain, suffer to die in us all that keeps us from You and from each other and from becoming as good and as brave as we are called to become. O Lamb of God, forgive us.

       O You Who Rose Again, You Holy Spirit of Christ, arise and live within us now, that we may be Your body, that we may be Your feet to walk in the world’s pain, Your hands to heal, Your heart to break, if need must be, for love of the world. O Risen Christ, make Christs of us all. Amen.”     (Frederich Buechner)

 Click HERE to Hear/See “Was It A Morning Like This” – beautiful! 

under the mercy, Lucinda

“Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity and Strength”

©2018 Lucinda Secrest McDowell        http://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 New Devotionals “Ordinary Graces” or “Dwelling Places” HERE for under $10 each!

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When Writers (or even You) Need to Rest

When Writers (or even You)

Need to Rest

Lucinda Secrest McDowell

A whole week in a cottage by the sea. Sounds like a perfect time to write, doesn’t it?

Or not.

            Maybe it’s a perfect opportunity to actually Do Nothing. To rest. To walk. To be silent. To listen. To remember. To dream. To create. To be nourished, body and soul.

Victorian art critic John Ruskin once observed, “There is no music in a rest, but there is the making of music in it. In our whole life-melody the music is broken off here and there by rests, and we foolishly think we have come to the end of the tune. Not without design does God write the music of our lives. But be it ours to learn the tune, and not be dismayed at the rests. With the eye on Him, we shall strike the next note full and clear.”

            Pauses are essential for those of us who spend our lives creating. And for everyone else too. That’s how our Creator wired us. We see it in natural rhythms which include times of both music and restful silences.

            Are you so full of ideas, plots and words that you feel like you will burst? Or are you dry and empty, in dread of facing yet another empty page (or screen)? Either way, it may be time to pull away from it all.

No music for a time. In order to receive.

            Start by unplugging from all your devices. Stop researching. Stop thumbing through your Bible in search of that perfect scripture quote. Stop reading great stuff by brilliant writers. Just stop!

            Be perfectly quiet.

            Sit in a comfortable place with your hands open wide. To release and receive.

            RELEASE your concerns, anxieties and fears. Ask God to carry them for you; or even dispel them altogether. Identify them and then pray:

Lord, you know what weighs me down, what hinders my life and my work. And why. I release them now to You, one by one ___________________, trusting in Your protection and deliverance. Amen.

            Now RELEASE your dreams, hopes and daring ideas to the One who will hone, fashion and tweak for His best purposes. Identify them and then pray:

            Lord, I want so much! Keep my vision and goals high and lofty – bold for Your glory. But today, as I name them _________________________, I release them back into Your hands, asking that You will guide me forward or redirect me as You choose. I want Your will and Your perfect timing. Amen.

            You are now in a position to RECEIVE. Once again, open your hands and be still. Pray as Samuel did, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” (1 Samuel 3.10)

            Continue in silence. Five minutes may seem like five hours to those of us who love to fill all space with words. But God is so very present in this place as you pray:

            Lord, I receive from You love, grace, mercy, hope, joy, forgiveness, wisdom, truth, strength, Holy Spirit power, courage, peace, and a very real sense of Your presence even now as I dwell deeply with You. Reveal to me where to direct my energy and resources in this ministry. Give me grace to face both opened doors and doors slamming shut. Keep me close to You that I might always recognize the Source of all that is worthy to be released to a broken world, through the very human vessel of my words. Amen.

            Whether your time apart is a day or a week, it will be an investment in your ministry of writing and you will see benefits. Maybe not immediately. But cleaning the clutter makes way for fresh work, a fresh filling. Even our Lord Jesus withdrew to a solitary place for refreshment and renewal – emerging with power. To conquer the very next challenge – feeding the five thousand!

            Writer, will you rest? Friend, will you rest?

  1. Release   Receive

Then go forth Restored.

under the mercy, Lucinda

“Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity and Strength”

Note: I’m teaching a 5-part Morning Track on “The Spiritual Life of the Writer” at Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference March 22-26 and would love to see you there – come say Hey!

EncouragingWords.net     reNEWwriting.com

©2018 Lucinda Secrest McDowell      

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 New Devotionals “Ordinary Graces” or “Dwelling Places” HERE for under $10 each!

 

 

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Why I Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day

Why I Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell

What if evil hijacked your youth and held you captive for years and years? When escape to a new life was finally achieved, you would vow to stay as far away from your former captors as possible, right?

Well, maybe not.

Maybe you would choose to return and “conquer evil by doing good.” (Romans 12.21)

Patrick was a sixteen-year-old teenager when he was abducted. There were no milk cartons broadcasting his disappearance, no organizations rescuing young people from human trafficking, no Amber alerts. He was on his own among a fierce pagan people.

He was now a slave, far from home.

In 5th century Ireland.

The land was lush and beautiful. But the people were themselves enslaved to superstition, spirits and fear. Violence was common and life was cheap. In this alien land, Patrick grew up quickly as slave to an Irish Chieftain.

????????????When there was time to be lonely and homesick among his heathen captors, Patrick found solace in God and converted to Christianity. He drew close to Him through nature, silence and prayer. One evening he felt God’s Spirit was prompting him to go to the shore two hundred miles away. There he discovered a boat which he immediately took as God’s provision for his escape.

After six long years he was finally free and able to pursue a new life! With a deepened, faith, he pursued ordination in the church and continued a vital ministry in Roman Britain. But the land that first captured him, now captured his heart.

He longed to return to Ireland. Patrick had become convinced that he was handpicked by God to convert the entire country to Christianity.

Patrick greatly respected nature, but he also wanted the Irish to know that God was the only One worthy of worship. So he used a shamrock to explain the three persons of the Trinity — God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit — one stem but three leaves.

Patrick labored in Ireland for thirty years and even though some say he singlehandedly converted Ireland, Patrick preferred to put it this way: “I owe it to God’s grace that so many people should, through me, become Christians.”

He loved the Irish and they loved him back, perpetuating many legends about his life and ministry. When this Briton born as Patricius died at age 75, he was named Patrick, patron saint of Ireland.

And neither Ireland nor Christianity was ever quite the same.

The following prayer is commonly known as St. Patrick’s Breastplate, found in the ancient Book of Armagh, from the early ninth century. Patrick is said to have written this prayer to strengthen himself with God’s protection as he prepared to confront and convert Loegaire, high king of Ireland.

We may not wear combat gear in our daily lives, but St. Patrick’s Breastplate can function as divine armor for protection against spiritual adversity. Where do you need to conquer evil by doing good? Ask God and He will reveal to you His battle plans for your own life.

(Author’s note: Whenever I pray this prayer, I have to stand and raise my right hand as though holding a sword. Then I proclaim with great conviction “I arise today…” I have not condensed it here.)

St. Patrick’s Breastplate

       “I arise today through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity, through a belief in the Threeness, through confession of the Oneness of the Creator of creation. I arise today through the strength of Christ’s birth and His baptism, through the strength of His crucifixion and His burial, through the strength of His resurrection and His ascension, through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom. I arise today through the strength of the love of cherubim, in obedience of angels, in service of archangels, in the hope of resurrection to meet with reward, in the prayers of patriarchs, in preachings of the apostles, in faiths of confessors, in innocence of virgins, in deeds of righteous men. I arise today through the strength of heaven; light of the sun, splendor of fire, speed of lightning, swiftness of the wind, depth of the sea,  stability of the earth, firmness of the rock. I arise today through God’s strength to pilot me; God’s might to uphold me,  God’s wisdom to guide me,  God’s eye to look before me,  God’s ear to hear me,  God’s word to speak for me,  God’s hand to guard me,  God’s way to lie before me,  God’s shield to protect me,  God’s hosts to save me from snares of the devil,  from temptations of vices,  from everyone who desires me ill, afar and anear,  alone or in a multitude. I summon today All these powers between me and those evils, Against every cruel and merciless power that may oppose my body and soul, Against incantations of false prophets, Against black laws of pagandom, Against false laws of heretics, Against craft of idolatry, Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards, Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul; Christ to shield me today Against poison, against burning, Against drowning, against wounding, So that there may come to me an abundance of reward. Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left,  Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,  Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me, Christ in the eye that sees me,  Christ in the ear that hears me. I arise today through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity, through a belief in the Threeness, through a confession of the Oneness of the Creator of creation. Amen.”    Patrick of Ireland (390-461)

Click HERE to listen to my dear friend Christin Ditchfield pray the above prayer to music. Click on St. Patrick’s Breastplate Prayer (and there are many other prayers there too!)

under the mercy, Lucinda

“Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity and Strength”

3d cover live these words* selected from Day 14 in “Live These Words” by Lucinda Secrest McDowell ©2015

Website/Blog www.EncouragingWords.net

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Is It Time for You to Return?

Is It Time for You to Return?

Lucinda Secrest McDowell

My friend Ruth Graham went straight for the heart when she shared last week at Billy Graham’s funeral:  “Daddy wasn’t God, but he showed me what God was like.” She went on to tell of when she returned to her parents’ home after disobedience and sin, knowing she had made bad choices and hating to disappoint them… and God.

“We live on the side of a mountain and as I wound myself up the mountain, I rounded the last bend in my father’s driveway and my father was standing there waiting for me,” she said through tears. “As I got out of the car, he wrapped his arms around me and said ‘welcome home.’ There was no shame, there was no blame, there was no condemnation – just unconditional love.”

But in order to receive that amazing grace gift, Ruth had to make the choice to return – making a 180 degree turnaround from where she was to where she wanted to be.

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Christina couldn’t wait to leave home and see the world.

      Though she had a loving mother, life in her poor Brazilian village provided only a pallet on the floor, a washbasin and a wood-burning stove. Christina dreamed of more. And she expected to find it in the Big City – Rio de Janeiro.

      It broke her mother’s heart. Maria knew that her beautiful daughter had no way of making money and would be forced to do whatever was required when pride meets hunger. So she packed a small bag, bought a bus ticket and stopped briefly at the drug store photo booth for lots of small photos of herself.

      This desperate mother trudged through the city, stopping in the worst places – bars, nightclubs, seedy hotels – anywhere that prostitutes might frequent. And in every location, she taped on the mirror a small picture of herself with a note on the back. And prayed. Soon out of money and pictures, she took the bus back home to her village.

      Weeks later, a disillusioned and broken down Christina descended some stairs in the latest hotel, feeling exhausted and fearful. Living a nightmare instead of a dream. How many times had she wished she could trade any of those countless beds for that safe pallet back home? But she could never go home again. Not now. As she walked to the door her eye caught sight of a picture of her own mother on the lobby mirror.

What in the world?

Written on the back she read, Whatever you have done, whatever you have become, it doesn’t matter. I love you. Please come home.” 

And she did.

      Have you wandered far in search of more?

      Seeking a path of sensation, significance or security? Only to discover the price was far too dear — you had to forfeit your scruples, your self-esteem, and perhaps even your soul. But now you realize that going it alone is highly overrated. Listening to the world’s views will only confuse and confound.

      Is it too late to return to the God who knows you best and loves you most? Absolutely not.   

Now is the perfect time to do what the prophet Joel said, “Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your hearts, with fasting, with weeping, and with sorrow; tear your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, very patient, full of faithful love, and ready to forgive.” Joel 2. 12-13 CEB

He is waiting to welcome you home. But it does require a choice.

There is ample opportunity to offer up your own tears and sorrow, your broken heart and shattered dreams, your disobedience or shame. God still loves you. He still wants you. And His arms are open to receive, “for he is merciful and compassionate, very patient, full of faithful love, and ready to forgive.”

This season of Lent is all about returning.

Returning to God after pushing Him out of most of our life and activities. Returning to values and faith. Returning to complicated relationships and doing whatever it takes to mend them. Returning to the purpose and calling God placed on each of us, but it got worn down by weariness and the world.

We have strayed and turned our attention to other pursuits. We have too often neglected to provide our children and the world an example of Christianity. But today we begin anew.

Today, we return.

under the mercy, Lucinda

“Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity and Strength”

©2018 Lucinda Secrest McDowell        http://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 New Devotionals “Ordinary Graces” or “Dwelling Places” HERE for under $10 each!

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