Not Forgotten

Not Forgotten

Lucinda Secrest McDowell

She was waiting by the sink in the Ladies Room as I began washing my hands.

“Excuse me,” she interrupted, “But the Lord has given me a word for you.”

What? I was in Colorado Springs for a meeting with my literary agent and publishers. Honestly, it wasn’t going very well and I had escaped our dinner table at the restaurant to have a moment alone. And now this.

forgottenThe stranger continued as I stood there, too startled to speak. “God told me to tell you this: You will not be forgotten.”

I gulped, “Okay. Thanks.”

And then she interjected, “And, oh yeah, something about your stomach. Is there a medical problem? Well, God says that’s going to be okay too.” (Now I was really spooked; and it was years later, in retrospect, that I finally understood that part of her word from God.)

But as she left the tiny room, she turned back with a smile, “Remember, you will not be forgotten!”

I never saw her again.

I also never shared this story. Until now, fifteen years later. It seemed too far-fetched. Too ‘out there.’ Prophecies in bathrooms simply are not part of my normal life – even my spiritual journey.

But I did write it all down in my journal. And I did pray, asking God to show me what, if anything, this was to mean in my life. And that’s when He led me to this verse. “I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.(Isaiah 49:16)

In Scripture, when that promise is made, there are two rather interesting reinforcements, one before and one after. Leading into those words is an illustration that hits close to home. “Can a woman forget her nursing child, fail to pity the child of her womb? Even these may forget, but I won’t forget you.” (Isaiah 49.15) As a mother who raised four children, I cannot even imagine a world where I would forget my nursing baby.

Though I don’t have any tattoos, I have certainly written reminders on my hand in ink, so I wouldn’t forget. Sort of like the second reinforcement in our verse today, “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.” In biblical times a slave would often bear the brand of his master, but here we have the Master inscribing his servant’s name on his hand. As though it is a tangible reminder of the covenant between God and His people.

In order for God to forget us, those scars in the palms of His hands must disappear! And that’s never going to happen, as this old hymn affirms, “My name from the palms of His hands eternity will not erase; Impressed on His heart it remains, in marks of indelible grace. Yes, I to the end shall endure, as sure as the earnest is given; More happy, but not more secure, the glorified spirits in Heaven.” (hymn, “A Debtor to Mercy Alone,” Augustus M. Toplady, 1771)

Do you sometimes feel forgotten?

James I. Packer affirms this wonderful truth: “I am graven on the palms of His hands. I am never out of His mind. All my knowledge of Him depends on His sustained initiative in knowing me. I know Him because He first knew me, and continues to know me. He knows me as a friend. One Who loves me; and there is no moment when His eye is off me, or His attention distracted from me, and no moment, therefore, when His care falters.”

I don’t even need the gift of prophecy to say to you today, “God says you will not be forgotten!”

under the mercy, Cindy

©2016 Lucinda Secrest McDowell

Website/Blog www.EncouragingWords.net

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

Order my new book  “Dwelling Places” from Amazon HERE

Order my new book  “Dwelling Places” from ChristianBook HERE

And, dear ones, if by any chance you have read this book, please kindly take a few moments to post a short REVIEW on Amazon or ChristianBook. I will love you forever!

 

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15 Years after 9/11

15 Years after 9/11

Lucinda Secrest McDowell

In the past three days we have “celebrated” three occasions: Saturday was “Worldwide Suicide Prevention Day” – always poignant for me because 19 years ago today my childhood best friend left me a suicide note. Sunday was the 15th Anniversary of the 9/11 Attacks on the USA – and yes, we lost three neighbors in the World Trade Center and the husband (pilot) of a New England friend. Then I was informed that Monday was “National Day of Encouragement” – whew, who doesn’t need special encouragement on a Monday, or any day really? (Btw, I also heard that Sunday was “Grandparents Day” but since our only grandchild lives overseas where they haven’t heard about Grandparents Day, it slipped by unnoticed.)

On September 11, 2016 what were your thoughts in remembering that fateful catastrophic event fifteen years prior that quite literally changed life as we knew it?

blog911Living here in the Northeast, the terror and tragedy, as well as the sense of dread, seemed all too real. Honestly, I trudged through a low-grade depression most of the Fall of 2001. In reading my journal from December 27, 2001, I see a wounded woman ready for a fresh start:

            “With each New Year I am prompted to begin a new life yet again.

            “In my new life there would be no hastily spoken words that can never be retracted, no moments of opportunity lost forever due to fear or laziness, and no choosing of the urgent over the best. There would be – by God’s grace – a moment-by-moment intimacy with my Savior and Lord, a life attitude of gratitude and grace shown through my words and actions, and a deliberate decision to make every moment of living count.

            “2002 will be a new year in only four days. But where is the new me? This morning I found the old one hiding under her quilt, weary of struggling to make sense of a senseless challenge. Tonight I’m rallied and ready to gather for the family celebration in a world that offers few reasons to celebrate.

            “Dare I hope tomorrow to rise early and be positive and productive? And by New Year’s Eve, ready (more than ready) for a transformation. Cocooning since the aftermath of 9/11 must certainly give way to a butterfly soon!

            “My heart’s desire for the next twelve months is threefold:

  1. Victory in health and fitness issues
  2. Provision and protection for my family
  3. Personal and professional passion fulfillment for both Mike and me

“The me of 2001 failed at the above. What will it take to fulfill my heart’s desire in 2002?

  • A spiritual filling of God’s power and promise in my worn-out life.
  • More fuel from God’s Word for incentive and direction.
  • A mind that makes decisions and follows through on them, regardless of extenuating circumstances.
  • An urgency to make each moment count;
  • HOPE based on my God who is Enough.

Oh Father, please help me. Revive me, renew me, refresh me, restrain me, recharge me, re-ignite my passion for You and Your kingdom. This I humbly pray in the Name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Amen.”    12/27/2001

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

On this week of anniversaries and celebrations, I am filled with gratitude that God met me in that place, but loved me too much to leave me there. The following year, 2002, was a challenging one, but also a fruitful and formative time for me.  “He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.” (2 Samuel 22.20)

Where do you need new life, new vision and new energy? I know God will meet you where you most need Him. Perhaps the best way to truly “celebrate” this kind of anniversary is the Live Fully to the Glory of God. Every moment of every day…                                        

        under the mercy, Cindy

©2016 Lucinda Secrest McDowell

Website/Blog www.EncouragingWords.net

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

Order my new book  “Dwelling Places” from Amazon HERE

Order my new book  “Dwelling Places” from ChristianBook HERE

And, dear ones, if by any chance you have read this book, please kindly take a few moments to post a short REVIEW on Amazon or ChristianBook. I will love you forever!

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I’m Going Back to School

I’m Going Back to School

Lucinda Secrest McDowell

This week I go back to High School. A place that was full of struggle back when I was a student. So much so that when I left after my junior year (at age 17) I vowed I would never return.

blogschoolBut this week I go back to High School. And I’ve been doing so for the past 7 years – as a substitute teacher. This year I’m a full time building substitute every day. Why? It’s work that is flexible enough to enable me to continue my primary vocation as a Writer and Speaker. The public high school is close by (all four of my kids graduated from there before I started subbing). And frankly, being with teenagers all day certainly brings perspective. And great humility…

My simple goal each morning is “How can I be an encouraging, helpful and stable presence in the lives of the students I encounter?”

That’s pretty much it. Go in, take over whatever class and subject I’m given, and try to do my best to make that classroom a positive place during the teacher’s absence. It would take much longer than a blog to share all my impressions from being with teenagers all day.

But I will tell you this. School is hard in 2016. It’s hard for the students. It’s hard for the faculty. And it’s hard for the administration and staff. So everyone needs our prayers.

As school starts this fall, perhaps you will join me in praying for all those in education?

Here’s a good place to start:

Prayer for School Children

Lord, I pray that my kids (grandkids) will experience the peace of God this year that exceeds all understanding. I pray they will not worry about things they cannot control, but that You will guard their hearts and minds and keep them trusting in You. I pray they will not only enjoy the peace of God, but peace with God. I pray they will develop a spirit of gratitude and thanksgiving as they look to You daily for their needs. I pray that You will give them the capacity for joy that bubbles up from Your peace. Amen. (Rebecca Barlow Jordan)

Prayer for Children Away at School

Dear Lord, while my child is away, give him opportunities for him to grow in faith. As I envision his future, I’m fearful about what may lie before him, especially when he’s away from my care. But I acknowledge that his safety doesn’t come from being physically close to me, it only comes from being spiritually close to You. So I’m once again turning my child over to You. Give him the spiritual insight he needs to see You at work around him. Help him be courageous as he stands up for what is right, instead of accepting the status quo. Show him when to stay and take a stand and when to leave a difficult situation. I know there are times when he’ll feel alone. Put people in his life to stand with him. Give him the specific victories and defeats he needs to grow stronger. Pull him closer to You, so that You’re the first person he turns to in the good times and in the bad. Amen. (Edie Melson in “While My Child Is Away”)

Prayer of a Teacher

O Lord, Grant me your strength, so I will have courage in every situation;
Grant me your love, so I may love others as you love me;
Grant me your wisdom, so I will show others the path to success;
Grant me your mercy, so I will forgive those who have hurt me;
Grant me your peace, so I will find the best in everybody;
Grant me your hope, so I will never give up;
Grant me your joy, so I will be thankful for all my blessings;
And Grant me your grace, so you will always be at my side. Amen  (David Bennett)

Whether or not YOU are going back to school this fall, I’m sure you know someone who is. Thank you for taking time to pray…

under the mercy, Cindy

©2016 Lucinda Secrest McDowell

Website/Blog www.EncouragingWords.net

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

Order my new book  “Dwelling Places” from Amazon HERE

Order my new book  “Dwelling Places” from ChristianBook HERE

Order my new book  “Dwelling Places” from AbingdonPress HERE

And, dear ones, if by any chance you have read this book, please kindly take a few moments to post a short REVIEW on Amazon or ChristianBook. I will love you forever!

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STILL at Lake Pleasant

STILL at Lake Pleasant

Lucinda Secrest McDowell

The name alone was enough to draw me in – Lake Pleasant. Add the surrounding Adirondack Mountains, clear sparkling water, and late summer sunshine and you have the perfect formula.

For remembering.

STILL COTW

Photo at http://www.Camp-of-the-Woods.org Such a Favorite Place!

More precisely, remembering the stories of my life. Sitting in silence and digging deep into the recesses of memories unfiltered so that each chapter of my very first book would open with an appropriate story. A process that filled me with both dread and delight.

With a looming deadline, I had hastily shuffled all four kids off to summer camp and nestled into a small cabin to write. But each day I sat by the water and listened. To God’s still small whispering voice. Reminding me of the many years of His faithfulness in both my stumbling and successes.

Where can you go to be STILL today? Try this when you get there:

  • S – Sit in silence with open hands. Listen to God with a receptive heart.
  • T – Think back to the many times of His faithfulness through answered prayers
  • I – Identify your current concerns, pain or struggles and offer them to God.
  • L – List the gifts God has provided for you today – thank Him for His graciousness.
  • L – Look forward with hope to what God will continue to do in and through you.

Today, twenty years later, I am sitting by the same lake. The kids are all grown and my twelfth book has just been released. I am in the midst of the privilege of speaking all week words from God’s Word – my most favorite calling. And now I sit in quiet serenity, going through the STILL exercises and realizing how truly blessed I am.

“He leads me beside still waters.” Psalm 23.2 ESV

My heart is full of gratitude.

under the mercy, Cindy

©2016 Lucinda Secrest McDowell

Website/Blog www.EncouragingWords.net

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

Order my new book  “Dwelling Places” from Amazon HERE

Order my new book  “Dwelling Places” from ChristianBook HERE

Order my new book  “Dwelling Places” from AbingdonPress HERE

And, dear ones, if by any chance you have read this book, please kindly take a few moments to post a short REVIEW on Amazon or ChristianBook. I will love you forever!

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How to Eat an Artichoke

How to Eat an Artichoke

Lucinda Secrest McDowell

She carefully laid the flowery vegetable on a plate in front of me. I simply stared. Where to begin?

Artichoke“Simply pull off each petal, dipping the end into melted butter and then scrape the soft tender flesh off into your mouth with your slightly clenched teeth. When you reach the heart, scoop out the fuzzy choke with a spoon. That’s where the sweetest taste is,” my eloquent hostess carefully explained.

I was incredulous as I explored this exotic edible. Having just moved to Boston, all I could think was “Wonder what the folks back home in Georgia would think of this?” Who knew such treasures lay inside this prickly (yes, even ugly) plant?

Honey, of all the things author/mentor Elisabeth Elliot taught me, how to eat an artichoke is right up there at the top!

Today one of my favorite recipes is artichoke dip, made with heart of artichoke. I laugh when I remember the adventure of discovery, glad I was game to try anything. And I’m grateful Elisabeth also instilled in me the missionary’s motto: “Where He leads me, I will follow. What He feeds me, I will swallow.” It was an attitude I passed along to my adventurous children.

God is far more creative than we can imagine. After all, He is the one who thought up the anteater, dressed the zebra in black and white stripes, and decided that porcupines were a grand idea. You and I might have kept the world quite monotonous if we played it safe with only the familiar.

“No one’s ever seen or heard anything like this, Never so much as imagined anything quite like it— What God has arranged for those who love him.”  (1 Corinthians 2.9)

But God says we cannot even imagine all He has planned for us. How often are you willing to try something new or daring or exotic? Perhaps now would be a great time to “taste and see the Lord is good.” (Psalm 34.8 NLT)

under the mercy, Cindy

©2016 Lucinda Secrest McDowell

Website/Blog www.EncouragingWords.net

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

Order my new book  “Dwelling Places” from Amazon HERE

Order my new book  “Dwelling Places” from ChristianBook HERE

Order my new book  “Dwelling Places” from AbingdonPress HERE

And, dear ones, if by any chance you have read this book, please kindly take a few moments to post a short REVIEW on Amazon or ChristianBook. I will love you forever!

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Need Some Summer Shade?

Need Some Summer Shade?

Lucinda Secrest McDowell

I love hydrangeas.

In fact I think they look like bouquets of lace. So I was thrilled to receive a beautiful hydrangea plant for my birthday, which was immediately stuck in a hole in the ground outside. But I am not a gardener. Every time blossoms would come they turned brown almost immediately and no amount of water could resuscitate them.

shadeblogThe problem was, of course, they had way too much sun. Hydrangeas grow best in the shade. I know that now. And our plant, repositioned by my gardener husband, is beautiful and now thriving in the shadow of our porch.

Shade is not just for comfort; it’s also for protection.

You have been a refuge for the needy in distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat.”  (Isaiah 25.4) Here the Old Testament Hebrew word which connotes protection is tsel, translated “shade” or “shadow.” They are interchangeable as also found in Psalm 91.1 “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”

Whether in gardening or in life, we all need some shade. A respite from the heat of the sun or the heat of demands and pressures to perform or produce.

Shade evokes a sense of rest and peace.

When was the last time you sat in the shade and soaked in the presence of God?

The psalmist reminds us that “the Lord is your protector; the Lord is your shade right beside you.” (Psalm 121.5)

May I suggest today that you go find some lovely shade and just sit still with open hands to receive the love, protection, mercy and grace God has for you? After a few moments, here is a prayer you might want to offer up this season:

DwellingPlacesShade“Lord God, I pray that You bear lasting fruit in my life through the gift of the Spirit. You are the fountain of life. Enliven and refresh my listless, thirsting soul and spirit through Your love and vibrant life that renews. You are the tree of life. Make strong the branches of my life that have been weakened by the storms of daily life. Keep me fresh and filled with Your life. Your Spirit is living water. Deepen the roots of my restless and weary life through the river of life in Your Word. Refresh me and bring me joy by infusing me with Your Holy Spirit and more of Your abundant life. Your Church is the orchard that you feed and prune by Your love. Lord, I come to You longing for peace, nourishment, and to find rest in the shade. Amen.” [adapted by Dr. Catherine Hart Weber from “Intercession”]

And remember, sunhats provide lovely shade too.

under the mercy, Cindy

©2016 Lucinda Secrest McDowell

Website/Blog www.EncouragingWords.net

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

Order my new book  “Dwelling Places” from Amazon HERE

Order my new book  “Dwelling Places” from ChristianBook HERE

Order my new book  “Dwelling Places” from AbingdonPress HERE

And, dear ones, if by any chance you have read this book, please kindly take a few moments to post a short REVIEW on Amazon or ChristianBook. I will love you forever!

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Learning How to Breathe

Learning How to Breathe

Lucinda Secrest McDowell

Yes, the sand in Bermuda really is pink. And the water really is turquoise. And the best way to enjoy both is to snorkel in the sea.

I admit it took me a while to learn to swim with fins and breathe through my mouth into a tube whilst peering through goggles. But once I got the hang of it – bliss!

blogbreatheWonder. Color. Creativity. “So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it.”(Genesis 1.21) All of God’s best handiwork on display right here under the sea. But you can’t appreciate any of it if you are in a hurry.

Snorkeling is a slow activity. Breathe in. Breathe out. Kick and paddle with those fins and reach out to coral and underwater rocks buried deep in the ocean floor.  Eyeball the iridescent Parrot fish and try in vain to count the hundreds of tiny minnows that seem to swim in formation . But take your time.

Breathe deeply and enjoy the moment.

God created these colorful “creatures of the sea” just for us. In the beginning, “darkness covered the ocean, and God’s Spirit (ruach meaning “breath”) was moving over the water.” (Genesis 1.2 NCV) Have you ever noticed that we use the words “breath” and “spirit” in similar ways today? If we say It took my breath away, we don’t literally mean we stopped breathing. It means our spirit was deeply affected. We felt awe or amazement – a strong reaction deep inside our being.

That is similar to how I felt when I finally got comfortable breathing through a tube. Relaxed and yet amazed. Eager to explore more and more of the deep waters God had breathed over just for me.

Is it time for you to slow down and breathe deeply?

under the mercy, Cindy

©2016 Lucinda Secrest McDowell

Website/Blog www.EncouragingWords.net

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

Order my new book  “Dwelling Places” from Amazon HERE

Order my new book  “Dwelling Places” from ChristianBook HERE

Order my new book  “Dwelling Places” from AbingdonPress HERE

And, dear ones, if by any chance you have read this book, please kindly take a few moments to post a short REVIEW on Amazon or ChristianBook. I will love you forever!

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