Why I’m Hibernating this January

Ready to Pursue Your 2019 Writing & Speaking Goals? We at reNEW – retreat for New England Writing & Speaking invite You to Join our Community October 4-6. 

Why I’m Hibernating this January

Lucinda Secrest McDowell 

Merriam Webster defines hibernation as “to pass the winter in a resting state.”

Sounds good to me. 

I’ve decided to hibernate for the month of January 2019. As this new year slowly unfolds, I am going to wait in wonder for instructions and guidance. I won’t be interacting on social media or posting blogs or sharing memes. I am going to be still and listen to God’s Whisper on my life. I will unplug from most technology and plug in to a very few people, sanctuary places and intentional prayerfulness. 

Mind you, it’s not a month’s vacation. I will still work and juggle life responsibilities, just quietly!

On some days I may even do Nothing. And that’s okay! “To be in solitude is to choose to do nothing. For extensive periods of time. All accomplishment is given up. Silence is required to complete solitude, for until we enter quietness, the world still lays hold of us. When we go into solitude and silence we stop making demands on God. It is enough that God is God and we are His.” (from “Invitation to Solitude and Silence” by Ruth Haley Barton)

2018 was a year of God’s continued faithfulness. But it was also a year of multiple medical challenges in my family and occasions where it was my joy and privilege to serve as a caregiver. I’m grateful to say that when the need arose, God provided both the strength and the serenity I needed (though I most certainly did not always shine in the process).

2018 was a year when I had the inestimable privilege of meeting so many of you in person. I am grateful every single time God opens a door for me to walk through with my words. I’m empowered as I speak, but enriched as I meet new and old friends. It was a lovely year of travel.

Finally, I also can hardly believe I’m saying this, but friends, I just turned in the manuscript for my 14th Book!!! On time. Miracle of miracles – thanks for your support and prayers. No title yet, but stay tuned…

“Take this book in Thy wounded Hand, Jesus, Lord of Calvary. Let it go forth at Thy command, use it as it pleaseth Thee.”  ~ Amy Carmichael

With a fresh calendar page, I confess to feeling somewhat stretched and weary, even as I am also feeling a great reboot for my ministry and message. Life is often a mix of two opposites, isn’t it? 

On the final day of 2018, I read some wisdom from Oswald Chambers for all our new years:

  • For you shall not go out in haste, and you shall not go in flight, for the Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard.” Isaiah 52.12    
  • “Security from Yesterday.  At the end of the year we turn with eagerness to all that God has for the future, and yet anxiety is apt to arise when we remember our yesterdays. But God is the God of our yesterdays, and He allows the memory of them to turn the past into a ministry of spiritual growth for our future.
  • Security for Tomorrow. “…the Lord will go before you….” This is a gracious revelation— that God will send His forces out where we have failed to do so. He will keep watch so that we will not be tripped up again by the same failures, as would undoubtedly happen if He were not our “rear guard.”
  • Security for Today. “You shall not go out in haste….” As we go forth into the coming year, let it not be in the haste of impetuous, forgetful delight, nor with the quickness of impulsive thoughtlessness. But let us go out with the patient power of knowing that the God of Israel will go before us. Leave the broken, irreversible past in His hands, and step out into the invincible future with Him.”  (Oswald Chambers, “My Utmost for His Highest” December 31)

Happy New Year 2019.  I’m unplugging for the month now — praying for both a restorative and revealing time alone as well as moments with family and friends. 

Perhaps you will choose to do the same? Let me know, and thanks for being patient with my slow reply…

under the mercy, Lucinda

“Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity and Strength”

©2019 Lucinda Secrest McDowell        www.EncouragingWords.net 

NOTE: Did you enjoy this blog? If so, would you consider entering your email in the above right form and subscribing to it by email? I assure you I won’t overload your in-box, but would love to send you these ‘encouraging words’ each Wednesday. Thanks!

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How Can Your “Mess” Become a “Messiah” in 2019?

How Can Your “Mess” Become a “Messiah” in 2019?

Lucinda Secrest McDowell

Christmas is over and your house is a mess. Maybe even your whole life feels like a mess right about now. Honey, you are so not alone!

George was a mess.

One night in 1741, this bent old man shuffled listlessly down a dark London street. he was starting out on one of the aimless, despondent wanderings that had become a nightly ritual for him. His mind was a battleground between hope based on his past glories and despair based on the future.

George Frederich Handel couldn’t help but think of his roller coaster life…

For forty years he had written stately music for the aristocracy of England and Europe. Kings and queens had showered him with honors. Then court society turned against him, reducing him to poverty and illness. For awhile he experienced a recovery in health and fortune, until his patroness, Queen Caroline, died. As Handel sank deeper into debt, his heart sank deeper into depression.

Trudging into the warmth of his apartment that night, he discovered a package had been delivered– a commission to write a sacred oratorio. He would have preferred writing another opera. That is, until he began to read the words he was asked to set to music… “He was despised and rejected of men;” “Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace;” and “I know that my Redeemer Liveth.”

As these words came alive with meaning and purpose, so did Handel. He became consumed with writing and then jumping up and running to the harpsichord. At times he would stride up and down the room flailing the air with his arms and singing at the top of his lungs, “Hallelujah! Hallelujah!” the tears running down his cheeks.

People thought he was going mad. For twenty-four days he labored like a fiend with little rest or food. Then he fell on his bed exhausted, with his new score, “Messiah,” laying on his desk. At the very first performance of “Messiah,” the King and Queen attended and spontaneously stood in reverence when the “Hallelujah Chorus” began. That custom has continued to this day.

Handel never again succumbed to despair. Age sapped his vitality, he went blind, but his undaunted spirit remained to the last. “Until us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given” became words that gave him new life.

And through his oratorio, George Frederich Handel lit a torch that still shines.

This Child whom we celebrate during Christmas has great power to rescue those who are at the end of their rope – “messes” like you and me.  To offer a lifeline which restores purpose and passion to a discouraged soul. To anoint with power so that even the feeblest of humans can make a divine offering back to the Giver.

What will your “Messiah” be this coming year?

  • For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given;
  • And the government will be upon His shoulder.
  • And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor,
  • Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

    under the mercy, Lucinda

    “Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity and Strength”

    ©2018 Lucinda Secrest McDowell  adapted from Dwelling Places (Abingdon Press)      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” ($10.99) or “Dwelling Places” ($11.99) at ChristianBook.com — best price online!

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Guess Who Moved Into the Neighborhood?

Guess Who Moved Into the Neighborhood?

Lucinda Secrest McDowell

People were confused, hurting, angry and impatient. They wanted relief. They wanted results. Perhaps what they really wanted was a savior. Someone to solve all the problems in the world and thus make their life easier.

They had already tried just about everything, including following their own instincts, going after whatever would satisfy, even as a temporary fix. But it wasn’t enough. Our way usually isn’t.

After what seemed like silence for more than 400 years, a loving God did a radical thing to reach down into the world he had made and which had subsequently tossed him aside.

He came.

God became incarnate as Jesus Christ, the Son, and entered into our mess, helpless as a baby, unknown and ordinary. “He moved into the neighborhood.” John 1.14 MSG

To be among us.

Not over us, spouting truth from on high. But down here where life is gritty and grace is gulped by desperate people wanting to belong. Among. Walking down the dusty streets with beggars and women of the night. Confronting corrupt temple holy men even as the ordinary worshiper became discouraged by church politics.  Making his home in our homes.

Dwelling in our midst and eventually in our very hearts.

This is huge.

That One who is all-powerful and all-knowing would draw close to someone just like you and me. And yet Jesus-among-us is exactly what we celebrate every Christmas. The glory in the manger.

Where is God in your life? Is he still “up there” out of sight, out of reach, impossible to communicate with?

Or do you know him “here?” Christ among you. A breath prayer away from solace and sanctuary.

Invite Him in and stay close. Speak to Him of your concerns and your joys. Ask Him for power when yours gives out. Ask Him for love to share with the unlovely. Rest with your head on His lap and in obedience do hard things that will display His glory to the world.

This is why God sent Jesus.

under the mercy, Lucinda

Christmas JOY from the McDowell Family! 

“Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity and Strength”

©2018 Lucinda Secrest McDowell  adapted from Ordinary Graces (Abingdon Press)      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” ($10.99) or “Dwelling Places” ($11.99) at ChristianBook.com — best price online!

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That Time I Received Everything as a Gift…

That Time I Received Everything as a Gift…

Lucinda Secrest McDowell

On Crazy Christmas Sweater Day at the high school, I wear one depicting my favorite scene from the movie, “Elf.” Pictured on the front is Buddy the Elf screaming with ecstasy “Santa’s Coming! I know him!” Raised (by Santa) at the North Pole, Buddy works in the Christmas department of a New York City store. Though an upcoming visit from “Santa” is a humdrum for the other staff, he spends all night excitedly decorating to welcome a person he both knows and loves.

I’m the same way around Christmas – but not for Santa. For Jesus.

You see, Christmas celebrates Jesus’ coming. And since I know Him that changes my whole motivation for celebration..

Do you truly know Jesus or do you just know about Him?

Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God.” (2 Peter 1.3) Here we are promised that one of the greatest gifts we are given is the opportunity to get to know our Savior “personally and intimately.” How? By taking hold of the “everything” that is needed to live a life of godliness.

Literally we have received Everything!

The New Testament Greek word used here is pas which is translated “everything, all things, complete.” No exceptions. In the context of today’s verse, it refers to anything we need in order to grow spiritually.

It’s not enough just to have the gift, we must actually use it.

When Crowfoot, Chief of the Blackfoot nation in Alberta, gave the Canadian Pacific Railway permission to lay train track from Medicine Hat to Calgary, he was given in exchange a lifetime railroad pass. A ticket he could use to go anywhere, anytime. Everything he needed for a journey.

For the rest of his life.

Chief Crowfoot was so pleased with the gift that he put it in a fine tooled leather pouch and wore it around his neck. But he never used it. He never took a trip on the train. He had everything but he didn’t avail himself of the gift.

Don’t waste the grace gifts God has given you. “In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2.3) Simply draw near, read His Word, talk to Him in prayer.

That’s everything.

under the mercy, Lucinda

“Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity and Strength”

©2018 Lucinda Secrest McDowell  adapted from Ordinary Graces (Abingdon Press)      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” ($10.99) or “Dwelling Places” ($11.99) at ChristianBook.com — best price online!

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When Your Family is “Complicated”

 When Your Family is “Complicated” 

Lucinda Secrest McDowell

Let’s face it. Great Uncle Horace is not going to change this year.

He will still be obnoxious, drink too much, bring totally inappropriate gifts and end up snoring in the recliner during the family Christmas gathering. Yes, he’s a piece of work.

But he’s your family’s piece of work!

Ahhh…. extended families during the holidays. Can someone say, “It’s complicated?”

Even if we didn’t have all the drama with in-laws and outlaws and custody and visitation, we would still find ourselves with a living room full of people with varied views on everything from religion to sports to politics to parenting and even the traditional menu for the holiday meal.

Don’t dread it. And don’t skip it. Embrace the mix! Do what the apostle Paul encouraged If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12.18 

Jesus said “Blessed are the peacemakers.” Matthew 5.9  Unfortunately, our world is more than ever defined by our many conflicts.  

But my friend Jennifer Kennedy Dean in “Pursuing the Christ” brings the focus in tighter to our personal worlds. “Little arguments, petty responses later regretted, disagreements blown out of proportion, and hurt feelings, nurtured and fed, occur in abundance. Let peace begin with me… The focus is on what I can do to be an instrument of [Jesus’] peace.” 

The Bible promises that the “dawn from heaven will break upon us… to guide us on the path of peace.” Luke 1.78-79 In following that pathway, let’s offer acceptance and grace.

C.S. Lewis once commented that there are two kinds of love: “We love wise and kind and beautiful people because we need them, but we love (or try to love) stupid and disagreeable people because they need us. This second kind is the more divine because that is how God loves us: not because we are loveable but because He is love, not because He needs to receive but He delights to give.”

Love. Peace. It’s all been given to us.

Will you return the favor this season?

under the mercy, Lucinda

“Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity and Strength”

©2018 Lucinda Secrest McDowell  adapted from Dwelling Places (Abingdon Press)      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” ($10.99) or “Dwelling Places” ($11.99) at ChristianBook.com — best price online!

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Will You Have a Shiny Christmas?

Will You Have a Shiny Christmas?

Lucinda Secrest McDowell

I don’t want to just survive the holidays, I want to shine.

Don’t you want the season to be different this year? Not as hectic or harried. Not as full of stress and ‘shoulds.’ More purposeful and peaceful. Brighter and more beautiful, but in a low key way.

I’m thinking of words here like simplicity and serenity. You too?

Ready to let go of the debt and duty. Happy to keep the lights and shimmer. In fact, I want every single corner to shine, not necessarily with a designer tree or sequined sweater, but with sweet contentment.  In thinking of such possibilities, my heart bursts into praise, “Shine, Jesus shine, Fill this land with the Father’s glory.”

But, of course, my deepest prayer is “Shine on me.”

For until I am filled with that light inside, I can never reflect it to those around me.  

“If you have arrived at Advent, at the coming, with doubts, dragging chains of disbelief, disenchantment, and discouragement, welcome. You are not alone. And if you enter this season with a harried heart and a furrowed brow, welcome. You are not alone. If your moanings feel louder than the quiet, subtle hope tucked behind the noise of the world’s Christmas season, then welcome. You are not alone. And that’s the good news, isn’t it? That in this darkness, in this aching nighttime, we are not alone. Christ comes. Christ pierces the darkness with His light.” (Jane Rubietta, “Finding the Messiah”)

One symbolic way our family enjoys keeping the shine in our season is the tradition of lighting candles each day.  Advent wreaths can be purchased widely, from simple frames at hobby stores to elaborate ones in gift shops. But all you really need is a circle of four candles and a place in the middle for the Christ candle. Candles can be any color, or you use the traditional colors of three purple/blue and one pink. Each week, a new candle is lit. The first Sunday, we light a purple candle for Hope, the second Sunday another purple candle for Love, the third Sunday  the pink candle for Joy, the fourth Sunday a purple candle for Peace and on Christmas Eve the center white candle for Christ. With each lighting, we read Scripture and sing a Christmas carol.

Our dwelling place is God’s presence. Out of that place of refueling and reigniting, we then go forth to mingle with a damaged and desperate culture. “Among these people you shine like stars in the world.” (Philippians 2.15)

I’m looking forward to a Shiny Christmas, how about you?

under the mercy, Lucinda

“Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity and Strength”

©2018 Lucinda Secrest McDowell  adapted from Dwelling Places (Abingdon Press)      www.EncouragingWords.net 

My book Dwelling Places has an entire section “SHINE” devoted to the 30 days of December. One word a day in this Season of Waiting. Order yours now! ORDER My New Devotionals “Ordinary Graces” ($10.99) or “Dwelling Places” ($11.99) at ChristianBook.com — best price online!

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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But What If You Don’t Feel Thankful?

But What If You Don’t Feel Thankful?

Lucinda Secrest McDowell

Perhaps you aren’t feeling very thankful this week.

The world is a scary place. The losses have piled up one after another — health, relationships, financial security, dreams — and you really wish everyone would just quit asking you to list your one thousand gifts…

 

Some people call this holiday “Turkey Day” but that would be limiting. It is called Thanksgiving to prompt us to dig deep enough to find something which offers hope and promise.

To say Thank You. Even if we don’t feel thankful.

When I am in these hard places, I find it helpful to focus my soul on these two things: 

  1. Remember that GOD is the One we thank.

G.K. Chesterton once famously wrote, “The worst moment for an atheist is when he is really thankful and has no one to thank.” To whom are you thankful today? 

Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.” (1 Chronicles 29:13) This verse reminds us that God is the one we praise. We thank Him because He loves us more than we can possibly imagine. He has our back. Knowing that we are created, loved and sustained by a merciful and gracious God is the ultimate reason for giving thanks.

  1. Make a CHOICE to live in Gratitude, no matter what.

So, I can either complain and whine about the direction life has taken me— the detour in the road, the closed door, the seemingly impossible challenge — or I can believe that nothing is too hard for God-with-us (that is Emmanuel, one of the names of Jesus).

Maybe your situation is darker this year than last, but if you know God as the Great Provider, you can choose to declare: “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” (Habakkuk 3.17-18)

thankfullist1965I’m grateful for parents who taught me early on that Thanksgiving is actually a way of life. Recently I discovered a small piece of paper with a long childhood list — my ‘ticket’ to Thanksgiving dinner. I was startled to count 70 different things on this thankful list —  in categories, no less! If I could write that many at age twelve, just think of all I can thank Him for today after so much more life and blessing.

What is ONE THING you can Thank God for today?

Even in the pain, even in the loneliness, even in the uncertainty. Now breathe it out or write it out. Good for you.

Heavenly Father, I thank you. Most of all for loving me, for being my Savior and my Lord. But also for the many blessings you have showered upon my life. Every good gift is from you and I will declare my gratitude by living with a thankful heart. Not just on this holiday, but always. Amen. 

under the mercy, Lucinda

“Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity and Strength”

©2018 Lucinda Secrest McDowell       www.EncouragingWords.net 

holidayfp4hThis Devotional appears in “A Joy-Full Season” Holiday Wellness Study from my good friends at First Place 4 Health. Want to Stay Healthy during the upcoming holidays? Order your copy HERE NOW! (I am grateful to be a contributing author of several devotionals in it – there are lots more from fabulous people!)

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” ($10.99) or “Dwelling Places” ($11.99) at ChristianBook.com — best price online!

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Why a Gratitude List is Good for Your Health

Why a Gratitude List is Good for Your Health

Lucinda Secrest McDowell

“I tell you I’m going crazy,” the woman shouted to her mentor.

He gently replied, “Here is a yellow pad and here is a ballpoint pen. I want you to write down your blessings.”

She refused, overcome by the despair that had seized her soul.

But he didn’t give up. “Think of the millions of people all over the world who cannot hear a choir or a symphony or their own babies crying. Write down ‘I can hear, thank God.’ Write down that you can see this yellow pad and think of all the millions of people around the world who cannot see a waterfall or a flower blooming or their lover’s face. Write down ‘I can see, thank God.’

And so she began to make her list. As she reached the last line of that yellow notepad, clearly “the madness was routed.”

From then on Maya Angelou wrote all of her books and poems on yellow notepads, saying, “As I approach the clean page I think of how blessed I am.”

Ann, a Canadian pig farmer’s wife, began listing her blessings on a dare. Pretty soon her entire life and outlook changed as she kept lists of her one thousand gifts. Ann Voskamp began blogging and writing books to encourage others to do the same. And in just a few short years, many readers have seen their lives transformed by the spiritual practice of thanking God for all that is given.

Even science has shown that practicing gratitude is good for you. According to one study, those who keep gratitude journals:

  • exercised more regularly,
  • reported fewer physical symptoms,
  • felt better about their lives as a whole,
  • and were more optimistic about the upcoming week

They were also more likely to make progress on their personal and professional goals if their gratitude was recorded in some manner, like a list.

The hymnist Frances Ridley Havergal kept what she called a ‘journal of mercies.’ She crowded it with remembrances of God’s goodness. She was always on the lookout for tokens of the Lord’s grace and bounty, and she found them everywhere. She believed that many a complaining life would be changed into music and song by a journal of mercies.

Do you have a gratitude list? Why not?

The daily planner I ordered online this year includes a space each day to list gratitudes. My husband keeps one of those small pocket calendars solely dedicated to writing his everyday thanksgivings. Some people put them on slips of paper in a Mason jar.

You could even start right here:

  1. I am grateful for __________________________________________
  2. I am grateful for __________________________________________
  3. I am grateful for __________________________________________

But however you choose to record God’s goodness and faithfulness to you, my prayer is  that as you choose to do it, it will enrich your life, bubbling over to all those you encounter.

under the mercy, Lucinda

“Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity and Strength”

©2018 Lucinda Secrest McDowell  adapted from Ordinary Graces (Abingdon Press)      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” ($10.99) or “Dwelling Places” ($11.99) at ChristianBook.com — best price online!

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That Thing We Can All Do… for Our Country

That Thing We Can All Do… for Our Country

Lucinda Secrest McDowell

Please don’t complain about the condition of our country, our government and our elected officials…

If you don’t vote.

It’s too easy to become complacent. We never lived during the time when only white male property owners were allowed to have a voice in the running of this country. But thankfully, brave men and women opened the doors for us all. Will we walk through them?

The women’s suffrage movement took activists and reformers nearly 100 years to win the vote, and their campaign was wrought with much conflict. But on August 26, 1920, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was finally ratified, enfranchising all American women and declaring for the first time that they, like men, deserve all the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.

Your vote and mine do make a difference. Martin Luther King, Jr. admonished us to “never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us.  The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressman and government officials, but the voters of this country.”

As citizens, voting is our right and privilege. As believers, we have a biblical precedent to “Choose for each of your tribes individuals who are wise, discerning, and reputable to be your leaders.” Deuteronomy 1.13 

But in today’s climate, it can be easy to feel that our vote doesn’t really matter.

Did you know that only one person’s vote in 1776 resulted in the United States choosing English as our language instead of German?

Or that in 1923, only one vote gave Adolf Hitler leadership of the Nazi Party.

Our flag would only have 46 stars if one extra person in California, Washington, Oregon and Texas hadn’t voted for statehood. (Frankly I can’t even imagine a country without those significant states!). In 1876 Rutherford B. Hayes beat Samuel J. Tilden for 19th president of the United States by one vote.  Only time will reveal the difference our votes made in a lifetime.

Perhaps you did vote. But your candidate was not the one elected. This time. Will you despair or will you hold fast to these three truths?

  1. God is still sovereign. He is not wringing His hands over this latest election. He is in control.  God reigns over the nations; God is seated on his holy throne. Psalm 47.8       Lord, God of our ancestors, you alone are the God who is in heaven. You are ruler of all the kingdoms of the earth. You are powerful and mighty; no one can stand against you! 2 Chronicles 20.6 
  1. We are called to pray regularly for our leaders and our country. Prayer is powerful.       The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live.1 Timothy 2.1-3 
  1. God offers a purpose and a hope for us now and for generations in the years to come.     I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’ Isaiah 46.10     How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion endures from generation to generation. Daniel 4.3    

One day when your children ask you about this time in history, be sure you tell them that you made a deliberate choice to exercise your right to vote. 

under the mercy, Lucinda

“Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity and Strength”

©2018 Lucinda Secrest McDowell        www.EncouragingWords.net 

NOTE: Did you enjoy this blog? If so, would you consider entering your email in the above right form and subscribing to it by email? I assure you I won’t overload your in-box, but would love to send you these ‘encouraging words’ each Wednesday. Thanks!

ORDER My New Devotionals “Ordinary Graces” ($10.99) or “Dwelling Places” ($11.99) at ChristianBook.com — best price online!

 

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How Do You Remember Them?

How Do You Remember Them?

Lucinda Secrest McDowell

Do you celebrate All Saints Day (Nov. 1) and All Soul’s Day (Nov. 2)?

Even though some think only the canonized are ‘saints’, the Bible recognizes all Christians as ‘saints.’ We remember the great cloud of witnesses who have gone before us in the faith, stretching across the centuries and around the globe.

“However hard it might seem to follow the way of Jesus in our own time and place, this is a day to remember that we may be crazy, but we are not alone.” (‘Common Prayer’ for Novenber 1st)

  • Recently I visited the grave of a woman I never met. I helped my son and husband plant flowers and we sang together the hymn inscribed on Inka’s tombstone “Thine is the Glory.” Except for our voices, it was strangely quiet in this small Dutch village churchyard as we dug and stood vigil. A grace gift of both joy and solemnity.
  • Before my youngest daughter married her husband, we stood in a Texas memorial garden honoring his father, and prayed with thanksgiving for Tom’s life and our children who had come together to carry on his name and legacy.
  • And when I visit my Georgia family, I occasionally kneel at the grave of my childhood friend Cax and chat about growing older without her. Sometimes I leave little gifts, like the Barbie Christmas ornament that reminds me of so many little girl dreams – ones that she decided on her own would never come true.

Graves and tombstones are tangible memorials to someone’s life. As believers we know they aren’t actually there, in the ground or the vault. But these places provide a touchstone of remembering who they were and how they changed our lives.

“How often do we go to the cemetery and stand, kneel or sit in front of the place where our spouse, parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, or friends have been buried? Are we still in touch with those who have died, or are we living our lives as if those who lived before us never really existed?” (Henri Nouwen)

How do you remember the life of a loved one who has died?

Perhaps you keep a possession of theirs, a recording, or a letter. Maybe you donate to a cause or ministry they were passionate about, or establish a scholarship to encourage students their field.

“What a gift it is to know deeply that we are all brothers and sisters in one human family and that, different as our cultures, languages, religions, life-styles, or work may be, we are all mortal beings called to surrender our lives into the hands of a loving God. What a gift it is to feel connected with the many who have died and to discover the joy and peace that flow from that connectedness.” (Henri Nouwen)

Because they lived, we are different.

So…. if you, like me, find yourself teary occasionally as you trudge this journey of faith and fortitude, seeking to persevere amidst all that says give up, then remember those words, “we may be crazy, but we are not alone!”  

What will others remember most about you? That you were kind, encouraging, helpful, funny? Or that you were always too busy? I urge you to live each day as though everything you do, everything you say and everyone you encounter builds the kingdom. Because it does.

You don’t have to worry about memorials. Just live.

under the mercy, Lucinda

Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity and Strength”

©2017 Lucinda Secrest McDowell – adapted from Ordinary Graces  www.EncouragingWords.net 

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