How Much Do You Want Freedom?

EWWelcome

How Much Do You Want Freedom?

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell

fccinside1It doesn’t exactly look like a place of Total Revolution. Total Transformation. Freedom. Yet it is.

It is completely and utterly white. Puritan. No stained glass windows. No ornate decorations. Just a simple Meetinghouse built in 1761.

And I am standing in the same place that faithful patriots assembled one Sunday afternoon in order to pray before they marched off to Lexington Massachusetts to fight against England for freedom! As I glance around, I am reminded of the great ‘cloud of witnesses’ who have gone before me.

fccinside3My home church is called the First Church of Christ because it was the first church gathered in Connecticut back in 1635. We still worship in the 18th century building and we are still embracing freedom. Are you?

Historian Lois Wieder explains that our forefathers and foremothers likened England’s persecution of her colonies to the Old Testament persecution of the Hebrews by the Egyptians; encouraged their people to enlist and support resistance efforts; and when war actually came, saw divine intervention in all colonial victories. They were serious about freedom!

freemilitia“The Sunday following the Lexington alarm was a busy one in Wethersfield. The Broad Street or First Company of the Sixth Militia regiment prepared to march to Boston. They attended the morning service as a body and sat in the gallery. Dr. Marsh preached and everyone in the church was in tears. Final preparations were made and in the afternoon families and friends gathered in front of the Meetinghouse where Dr. Marsh offered a prayer.”  (from “A Pleasant Land – A Goodly Heritage” by Lois M. Wieder, 1986)

During the Revolutionary War, General George Washington worshiped at my church three times. Sunday, May 20, 1781, was particularly notable because it was during this meeting Washington had with the Count de Rochambeau that the Battle of Yorktown was planned.freegw The following Tuesday the generals and their aides met in Old Wethersfield to hold what has been called ‘the most important conference of the war.’

This Fourth of July week, worshiping in the Meetinghouse was amazing, especially since the whole service was a tribute to our servicemen and women who fought in World War II 70 years ago!  I couldn’t help but wonder ‘Is this the pew where George Washington sat?’ My mind imagined that Sunday when so many of the parishioners were coming for spiritual sustenance before embarking on a journey from which they might never return. Were they excited? Were they exhilarated? They were going to fight for freedom! And they were willing to lay down their lives for freedom if that were required.

St. Paul wrote, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery… You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.” (Galatians 5.1, 13)

freechainsHow much do you want freedom? And what are you willing to do to throw off chains that bind, so that you might embrace the freedom Christ offers — freedom from anything or anyone who enslaves you?

Paul reminds us yet again in that “Sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.” (Romans 6.14) Ahhhh, grace. The gift we don’t deserve and can never earn. And can never lose. The gift that sets us free. From performance; from shame; from paralyzing fear.

freeeagelflagDuring this month of July – Independence Day month – why not ask God to help free you from anything that is binding and preventing you from experiencing the life He wants to offer? Imagine yourself as a patriot – a soldier in the militia – coming to church to pray before you head out in battle to fight for freedom. Thus fortified, you and I can face anything.

Raise your Sword and sing heartily the words of Charles Wesley’s glorious hymn “And Can It Be” with me:

freewomansea“My chains fell off!

My heart was free!

I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

Amazing love!

How can it be

That Thou, My God, shouldst die for me?”

under the mercy, Cindy

fccaerialbydrone

©2015 Lucinda Secrest McDowell
Website/Blog www.EncouragingWords.net
Amazon author site amazon.com/author/lucindasecrestmcdowell 
NOTE: Did you enjoy this blog? If so, would you consider entering your email in the above right form and subscribing to it by email? I assure you I won’t overload your in-box, but would love to send you these ‘encouraging words’ each Wednesday. Thanks!

 

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Glancing Back & Dreaming Forward

Glancing Back & Dreaming Forward 

Lucinda Secrest McDowell

cbaspasisters

Gathering with other author/speakers — sisters-who-know-what-my-life-is-like — is one of the perks of professional conferences.

What were you doing this time last year? Is there somewhere you go every year — a professional conference, annual retreat, or vacation spot?

I have discovered that such times can be powerful milestones in our quest for living proactively — both professionally and personally.

But only if we do a bit of what I like to call “glancing back and dreaming forward…”

Would you like a simple tool to help you do this?

cbaradio

Grateful for radio and TV interviews about my book “Live These Words.”

Because I am a professional author and speaker, a significant annual marker for me is the Christian Booksellers Association’s International Christian Retail Show (ICRS) which occurs adjacent to the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA) conference. This year they were in Orlando and I just returned home last night, so privileged to have spent those days with women and men who are committed to communicating Christ to the world. 

In processing the myriad of conversations, connections, education, wisdom and industry news crammed into the last few days, I find it helpful to use this time to review what has happened since we were last together, and to cast a new vision for what will unfold in the days ahead. 

cbaworship

Worship at “Speak Up” annual breakfast.

You can utilize this tool as well, no matter what you do. Just tweak these review questions to fit your own life and profession. 

 

15 Questions to Ask Since I Was Last Here (at this event, time of year, etc)

  1. What has been my most significant achievement?
  2. What new person did I meet who has begun to speak into my life?
  3. What mistake did I make and how can I prevent that for the future?
  4. What new technology have I incorporated into my life and work?
  5. Which colleagues (other writer/speakers) did I promote and encourage?
  6. What new blogs did I begin following and why will I keep them or move on?
  7. What prayer did God answer and how?
  8. What steps did I take to expand the reach of my ministry/writing/speaking?
  9. What words are emerging as themes for my life and writing/speaking?
  10. What books or lectures are still resonating in my heart and requiring a response?
  11. What has been my best received presentation, blog, book or seminar and why?
  12. How have I taken care of my soul and spiritual life?
  13. What is my current goal between now and this time next year?
  14. What is my most “impossible” prayer?
  15. To whom will I now write/phone a thank you or an encouraging word?
cbacarolmaggie

Enjoyed time with two of the Best Women I Know — Carol Kent and Maggie Rowe

What did you discover as you answered these questions? I hope you will agree that glancing back and dreaming forward are good for a Storyteller’s Soul.

Now, I’m off to work on question number 13 which is writing my new book!

cbaabingdonM

Meeting new publishers and sales team!

“Careful planning puts you ahead in the long run;

hurry and scurry put you further behind.”

      (Proverbs 21.5 MSG)

under the mercy, Cindy

©2015 Lucinda Secrest McDowell
Website/Blog www.EncouragingWords.net
Amazon author site amazon.com/author/lucindasecrestmcdowell 
NOTE: Did you enjoy this blog? If so, would you consider entering your email in the above right form and subscribing to it by email? I assure you I won’t overload your in-box, but would love to send you these ‘encouraging words’ each Wednesday. Thanks!

 

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What Elisabeth Elliot Told Me

 What Elisabeth Elliot Told Me

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell

EEportrait

Elisabeth’s portrait during the time I lived with her

Elisabeth Elliot prayed for years that I would be granted the blessings of husband and children. I was in my thirties when Mike proposed to me near my home in San Francisco, and she happened to be visiting from Boston on her way to India researching the Amy Carmichael biography, so we dropped in at her friend’s home.

            “God answered your prayers – meet my fiancé, Mike!” I exclaimed. What a delightful visit that was and how grateful I am for the privilege of knowing and learning from this remarkable woman of God.

            And now Elisabeth Elliot has passed “through gates of splendor” and is finally Home.

           Upon hearing the news I immediately did 3 things – talked to her daughter and my dear friend Valerie, re-read some of my journals from back when she was my mentor, and then disciplined myself to keep on writing my new book because that’s what she would have urged …

EE1977

Cindy and Elisabeth 1977

            Many years ago when I was studying at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, I lived with Elisabeth Elliot as her student lodger. By then she had already written 20 books and was well-known for taking her young daughter, Valerie, to live with Auca Indians in Ecuador – the same ones that had speared her husband, Jim Elliot, and four other missionaries to death. By the time I first heard her speak, at ‘Urbana ’76,’ her second husband, Dr. Addison Leitch, had just died of cancer.

            Though I was a disappointment as a housecleaner (her words, not mine) I did pretty well at my other duties – transcribing Jim Elliot’s journals for her current manuscript (on a typewriter), driving her to the airport for frequent speaking engagements and organizing events in her home. We shared many lively breakfast conversations (yes, we did have differing opinions on a few things), hosted hymn sings and dinner parties, and even shoveled out of the Great Blizzard of ’78. I loved her sense of humor, her mimicry and enjoyment of parlor games. I don’t remember there being a television in the house at all.

            We were certainly an odd couple – me with my gushy southern type-A personality and her with her reserved New England demeanor and dry wit. But somehow God brought us together in a friendship that lasted 38 years. As I review my journals from that time so long ago I am amazed at how much of my own Life Story and message was shaped by my exposure to Elisabeth’s teachings during that formative season.

            Reading in my journal about a Sunday dinner I cooked for Elisabeth, her mother and sister, and four of my friends, I treasure the notes from that conversation. Jim, a seminarian from North Carolina, commented that so many people he admired had gone through great suffering. “Do you feel that’s necessary in order to become a man or woman of God?” he asked.

EE56

Elisabeth and Valerie 1956

            That evening I scribbled as much of her answer as I could remember in my journal. “She said ‘yes’ she believed we must know the cross in our own lives — Philippians 3.10 ‘that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death…’ That we must suffer for the Lord even though we don’t seek out the suffering, nor do we have anything to do in choosing the fashion it will take. Sometimes this means allowing ourselves to be joyfully inconvenienced, not seeking our own way, but serving others. Daily prayers for another can be an opportunity of laying down our lives for someone else.”

            I remember her warning us that our generation was not prepared to suffer or even be inconvenienced. I wrote “She pointed out that we must learn discipline and submission to authority in order to better be able to submit more wholly to God. Discipline should be exercised in our daily devotions, in our studies and in our love life. We must become responsible for that with which God has entrusted us now so we can be better prepared for all He has in store for us later.”  Do you remember the very first time you heard such powerful and challenging teaching as a young follower of Christ? I was like a sponge, soaking it all in…

           EEjournal This particular journal entry (October 30, 1977) closed with my own lament “Oh! How can I remember all she said – it was so profound. I can’t possibly do it justice writing it down here. But there are at least 2 basic things I want to begin putting into practice right now:

  1. Discipline in all areas, but especially my devotions and studies.
  2. Daily seeking ways to ‘suffer’ for God through discipleship and serving others.”

                Today I find myself way past the age Elisabeth was when I lived with her. I am an older woman of God, utterly dependent on God’s mercy through all my life’s experiences, and yes, suffering. I am also, by God’s grace, a person He uses to touch others through my writing and speaking. I still find that remarkable – that the Creator and Sustainer of the universe would choose me to have even a small part in helping to further His kingdom.

eewritingbuddies

Cindy and Valerie – still friends and writing buddies

            I smile as I read the postcard Elisabeth sent me shortly after she married Lars Gren and moved down to Atlanta while I stayed in her Massachusetts home. I had sent her an article of mine which appeared in the seminary newspaper. “…The parable is very good, I think. Perhaps it would be more effective if a wee shorter in the description of your failure, and a little longer on the remedy. You definitely have a flair for writing. Have you tried to do anything for Christian magazines? Spring is lovely in Georgia, isn’t it? Today I get a NOW hairdo to replace the THEN one….E”

            After my graduation a few years later, Elisabeth spoke strongly into my life concerning God’s call and purpose. “Cindy, God has given you a gift of writing and it is your duty to offer it back to Him.”

And so I do.

           EEbook Once Elisabeth told me that each of us is given only about two major themes/messages and that everything we speak and write about flows from that core. Tonight, reflecting on her life and international influence through her 30 books, Gateway to Joy radio program and many seminars, the messages that resonate most clearly seem to be:

  • Offering our suffering and circumstances to God, knowing that nothing is wasted – laying it on the altar and asking how we can learn and grow through this.
  • Serving others through the discipline of having a my-life-for-yours attitude every time we pray for someone or encounter a God ordained interruption.

              Some years ago Mike and I drove to Boston and took luncheon over to Lars and Elisabeth’s home so that I could say some important things that needed to be said. This was during her final quiet years and though the conversation was somewhat one-sided, it was precious and special and I was gratified that she seemed to remember me.

ee2009

Cindy and Elisabeth 2009

            This week we will return to Boston for her funeral and say our earthly goodbye along with other friends and family to this remarkable woman.

            Now and in the days ahead many will write and share the legacy of Elisabeth Elliot on their own lives.  I know that I am simply one of thousands whom she touched. And many will mention suffering. I don’t know if it is written in any of her books but one of the most powerful things I remember her telling me was “Suffering is having what you don’t want and wanting what you don’t have.” 

            Maybe you are in a position of suffering today. If so, I hope some of these remembrances will encourage you (as they certainly re-encourage me even in the writing of them) to grasp a firm hold of the God who is always there for us and will guide and provide.

            May I close with the words of a letter Elisabeth Elliot wrote to a very, very young Cindy Secrest back in 1978: “Amy Carmichael of India said ‘all weathers nourish souls.’ It’s true. All situations, all circumstances, all privations and abundances are opportunities to be spiritually nourished – if we respond in faith. This lesson has been laid before me again here. There are things that are not to my liking about the situation, of course. So what! ‘I have learned in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content’ (Philippians 4.11). You are dear to me, Cindy. In the will of the Lord we’ll see more of each other. You are in my prayers – keep me in yours, please. Lovingly, Elisabeth”

We rest on Thee, our Shield and our Defender!

Thine is the battle, Thine shall be the praise;

When passing through the gates of pearly splendor,

Victors, we rest with Thee, through endless days.”

(“We Rest on Thee” hymn by Edith G. Cherry 1895 – sung by Jim Elliot and his companions before they went to meet the Auca Indians in Ecuador 1956)

eemissionaries

 under the mercy, Cindy

 

           

 

 

 

READ this excellent article in the Wall Street Journal by Elisabeth’s nephew Dr. David Howard 

READ another article that captures some of Elisabeth’s essence.

©2015 Lucinda Secrest McDowell

Website/Blog www.EncouragingWords.net
Amazon author site amazon.com/author/lucindasecrestmcdowell 
NOTE: Did you enjoy this blog? If so, would you consider entering your email in the above right form and subscribing to it by email? I assure you I won’t overload your in-box, but would love to send you these ‘encouraging words’ each Wednesday. Thanks!
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Is It Time to Share Your Story?

 Is It Time to Share Your Story?

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell   

Painting

“So what?”                                                                                                                                      Unfortunately, that may be just the response when you say you want to write a memoir.

Why do you do it anyway?
To communicate a true story. Your story. Or at least part of it.

For a long time, the only people writing memoir were those who were rich, famous or extremely influential. But today anyone can write a memoir – and memoir stories are showing up in blogs, devotionals, and a whole variety of non-fiction books.
Why in the world would people read your memoir?
To gather important lessons, insight and perspective to help in their own personal stories.
write-your-story

Writer Douglas Crow puts it rather bluntly, “Nobody cares about your book. What people truly want is to improve their lives. The only reason someone may find your story interesting is how it relates to them.”

I’d like to encourage you to write your memoir, even if you aren’t rich, famous or particularly influential. Just remember these 3 keys to writing a memoir that people will read:

  1.     Memoirs include a Theme.
    Don’t try to tell your whole life story. Pick one theme and weave stories using that thread. The theme you choose must be universal, yet personal, something others can relate to, even if they have never experienced exactly what you have. Memoir doesn’t work when it’s just a bunch of unrelated stories – there must be something that ties them together. How do you choose which theme? Brainstorm some of the most significant watershed moments in your life. As you do, certain constants will emerge — perseverance over challenges, learning from bad choices, helping the underdog, etc. Remember to include a vital takeaway.
  2.     penjournalMemoirs are Interesting.
    Please don’t give us every single word that every person said when that thing happened to you. Just because it occurred doesn’t make it interesting. But if you use storytelling techniques you can make even the most ordinary everyday incident absolutely fascinating. Just don’t stretch the truth (remember James Frey and Brian Williams…) Use fiction techniques in writing your own non-fiction. And be sure to grab the reader from the very beginning with a great opening scene, perhaps even the pivotal moment of decision. Use dialogue to be vivid in your storytelling.
  3.    Memoirs are Personal, yet Universal.
    A truly good memoir is one we can all connect to in some way. It’s not just your autobiography; it’s about something bigger than just you. What are people going to do after they read it? Are they moved to make a decision, pursue a dream or change a habit? Perhaps the trickiest part of memoir is the personal vulnerability. In memoir, writers are willing to work our way into our readers’ hearts through honest sharing of the hard parts of our story. Honesty is not the same thing as confession (blurting out stuff for shock value.) And you don’t have to include every detail. As Meghan Daum observes, “Honesty means making the reader feel less alone. Honesty is inherently generous. Confession is needy and intrusive.” Pray before you share your story and ask God to help you do it in a redeeming manner.

typewriterkeysAs you write memoir, remember that readers are looking for your story to help them live their story. If we tell our story well, others will discover insight and inspiration valuable to their own lives. For those of us who are followers of Christ, this is the very reason we write, isn’t it?
          

“Every word You give me is a miracle word — how could I help but obey?  Break open Your words, let the light shine out, let ordinary people see the meaning.” Psalm 119.129-130 MSG

Live your story. Write your story. And embrace your role in God’s great Kingdom Story.

under the mercy, Cindy

Note: If you live in the Hartford CT area, plan to join me this fall for 3 Monday nights as I teach an Adult Education class on Writing Memoir. Stay tuned for details!

memoirclass

©2015 Lucinda Secrest McDowell

Website/Blog www.EncouragingWords.net
Amazon author site amazon.com/author/lucindasecrestmcdowell 
NOTE: Did you enjoy this blog? If so, would you consider entering your email in the above right form and subscribing to it by email? I assure you I won’t overload your in-box, but would love to send you these ‘encouraging words’ each Wednesday. Thanks!
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Look What I Found at the Beach!

 Look What I Found at the Beach!

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell

It’s June and officially Summer so I assume many of you will be spending some time at The Beach! Did you know that time by the Sea can restore your soul? Of course you do, that’s why you’re going 

pvbeachdevo1This lucky gal just returned from a week 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”) 

seagirlquiltI 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

Shell & DriftwoodLast 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!

June is here. Summer has begun. Mine already looks full with times scheduled for family visits, professional meetings, adventurous recreation and a huge writing project. Fact is, I’m a bit scared. 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?

Many years ago Anne Morrow Lindbergh stated hers: seacindy“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) 

sea4ofusIs 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 the 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 2015…

 under the mercy, Cindy

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

©2015 Lucinda Secrest McDowell
Website/Blog www.EncouragingWords.net
Amazon author site amazon.com/author/lucindasecrestmcdowell 
NOTE: Did you enjoy this blog? If so, would you consider entering your email in the above right form and subscribing to it by email? I assure you I won’t overload your in-box, but would love to send you these ‘encouraging words’ each Wednesday. Thanks!
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Best. Thank You Note. Ever.

 Best. Thank You Note. Ever.

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell

thankyounoteMama taught me that when given a Gift, the only proper response is to say “Thank You”… then immediately write a Thank You note.  So, today as I write some thank you notes, my heart is full of gratitude  – to God,  family,  friends,  readers…

This week I am overflowing with THANKS for….

  • The milestone of My Birthday a few days ago and God giving me Life and Health – and for lovely wishes from so many…
  • On Memorial Day remembering with gratitude all those who serve in the Military and preserve our Freedom (including my own Daddy of ‘the greatest generation.’)
  • Celebrating yesterday with joy the 31st Anniversary of marriage to my faithful and godly husband Michael.
  • cindysoarRejoicing tomorrow in the Birthday of our 4th child – Maggie and for the Amazing Human she is.
  • For my Mama’s 88th Birthday and the privilege of celebrating with her this week and with my two sisters Cathy and Susan in the Sunshine.
  • For the delight in being able to Visit with all 6 of my children and darlin’ grandgirl during June!
  • For brand New Opportunities to share my Encouraging Words with the world…

Though I  could go on forever, I’m keeping this blog intentionally short. Because I am focusing on my mother and sisters during this week’s trip, I decided to just share with you one of my most favorite prayers of Thanksgiving – which is actually a Thank You Note to God! Why don’t you join me in praying it today, as though it were the very first time? Savor each word and pour out your grateful heart to the Lord who LOVES us more than we can possibly imagine….

gratefulBest. Thank You Note. Ever.

(Write it. Pray it. Live it.)

“Almighty God, Father of all mercies, we Your unworthy servants give You humble THANKS for all Your goodness and loving-kindness to us and to all whom You have made. We bless You for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all for Your immeasurable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ; for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. And, we pray, give us such an awareness of Your mercies, that with truly thankful hearts we may show forth Your praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives, by giving up ourselves to Your service, and by walking before You in holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with You and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen.”  (Book of Common Prayer)

thankyousunsetI know that the very best way to respond to such abundance of blessing is to offer our lives back to God, willing to be used in any way for His purpose and plan. Friends, let’s GIVE BACK and pay it forward (I just typed “pray it forward” so that’s good too).

Thank You Notes are good for the soul…

under the mercy, Cindy

mikecindy31anniversary

 ©2015 Lucinda Secrest McDowell
Website/Blog www.EncouragingWords.net
Amazon author site amazon.com/author/lucindasecrestmcdowell 
NOTE: Did you enjoy this blog? If so, would you consider entering your email in the above right form and subscribing to it by email? I assure you I won’t overload your in-box, but would love to send you these ‘encouraging words’ each Wednesday. Thanks!
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Beyond the Birthday Candles…

 Beyond the Birthday Candles…

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell

cindyat5

My 5th Birthday

This week is my birthday and I’m feeling many different emotions: Grateful (thankful for every single day of life); Relieved (wow, I made it this far); Bewildered (how could I possibly be ‘that number’ when I feel so young inside); Contemplative (strong desire to make the most of time); and Expectant (excited about what the next year holds).

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined
what God has prepared for those who love Him.” 
I Corinthians 2.9 NLT

Birthdays and other significant milestones cause us to reflect, don’t they? Both on what was and what will be. So during my birthday month I plan to spend some quiet time with my journal,  answering these 12 questions. Perhaps you’d like to join me?cindyatcake

  1. What one area in my life needs the most change __________________ and what will I do about it?
  2. What one thing will I pray for this year that seems impossible __________________, knowing that “nothing is impossible with God?”
  3. Where do I waste time ______________________ and how can I avoid that?
  4. cindyat19

    My 19th Birthday (with little cousin Ashley)

    What is one important thing I could do to improve the quality of my family relationships this year _______________________?

  5. What’s the most strategic decision I need to make this year __________________?
  6. What’s one thing I could do this year to enrich my spiritual legacy to my children and grands ______________________?
  7. What’s an important financial goal this year ______________________ and how will I meet it?
  8. What’s an important trip I need or want to take this year ____________________________?
  9. Which spiritual discipline will I intentionally pursue this year ___________________________ and how?
  10. What new skill do I plan to learn this year _______________________?
  11. cindyat60

    Still Celebrating Life!

    How will I care for my soul this year (daily)______________________ (periodically) _____________________?

  12. What is my biggest regret about last year _____________________ and how can this year be different?

As much as I like to reminisce and remember former ages and stages, I plan to focus beyond the birthday candles.  Your cake may not have as many candles on it as mine does, but I assure you we are both given the same amount of hours each day. As a Gift. To spend however we choose. How will we choose?

During this birthday season I’m intentionally asking God for His presence, peace and yes, perseverence to make whatever days ahead are given me the most fruitful ever!

Happy Birthday indeed!

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43.18-19)

under the mercy, Cindy

 ©2015 Lucinda Secrest McDowell
Website/Blog www.EncouragingWords.net
Amazon author site amazon.com/author/lucindasecrestmcdowell 
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