MY LIST or “24 Things I Want in a Husband”


or “24 Things I Want in a Husband”

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell

When I was 28 and still not married, I decided God needed some specific ‘help’ – if not in content, certainly in timing! While many of my professional, educational and ministry dreams were being fulfilled beyond my imagination, the lifelong hope of being a wife and mother was still incubating… With no prospects in sight, I went on a day of prayer retreat and made a List. My List. I decided to write down exactly who I was praying for in a husband. When the day was over I had a list of 24 attributes which I promptly typed and put in my Daytimer (see photo – yes, I was organized and serious about this!) Then I began praying diligently for each and every one to be fulfilled…. halfheartedly ending my prayers in the prayer He taught us – “but, THY will be done.”

When you read my list you might think of me as bold, longwinded, too picky or ‘shooting for the moon’ but guess what? I was/am all those things! You see, I believe in praying specifically yet always leaving it to God to winnow out and whittle down as He sees fit. Why should I pray a small prayer for something as important as a husband?  (by the way, I’m still praying Big Prayers)

     “God is for you. If you don’t believe that, then you’ll pray small timid prayers; if you do believe it, then you’ll pray big audacious prayers. And one way or another, your small timid prayers or big audacious prayers will change the trajectory of your life and turn you into two totally different people. Who you become is determined by how you pray. Ultimately, the transcript of your prayer life becomes the script of your life.” (Mark Batterson, “The Circle Maker”)

My List (not necessarily in order of priority)

Lucinda Lee Secrest    August 1981

  • Strong commitment to the Lord; good theology; able to verbalize and share faith
  • Has a vision for reaching the unreached
  • From a Christian family
  • World Christian – open to missions and has traveled abroad
  • Strong spiritual leader and would easily take that role in our marriage & family
  • Would see my spiritual strength, gifts and commitment as positive, not as threat
  • Wants children and willing to spend significant time as a father raising them
  • Committed to trying to live as simply as we can
  • Knows how to budget money and handle financial affairs
  • Believes in having an open home and extending hospitality to others
  • Honest and open – a good communicator
  • Believes in this priority system: 1- God 2- Family 3- Ministry/vocation
  • Loves me just the way I am but wants to help and encourage me to become the woman God made me to be
  • Communicates openly to me – able to be vulnerable
  • Strong, yet gentle
  • Thinks I’m beautiful (I suppose this also means he needs glasses)
  • Intelligent (at least college graduate)
  • Doesn’t care if I’m not super athletic; likes me to be feminine
  • Feels comfortable with my family
  • Good sense of humor
  • Committed to tithing at least 10% to the Lord’s work
  • Knows manners and common courtesies
  • Likes to spend time outdoors
  • Has never been married before

A precious wedding gift was my new daughter Fiona, who is now planning her own wedding/marriage…

I prayed and I prayed. In the meantime I went around the world (a second time) speaking and ministering. I went to dozens of weddings. I went to work every day and sought to grow as a woman and a Christ-follower.  I became a doting aunt to nieces and nephews. And, one day at my office in the San Francisco area I had an appointment with a man from Seattle. It lasted a real long time and when we parted he asked for my itinerary (because I was leaving the next day for a month in Africa) and several weeks later when I landed in Tunisia, there was a letter waiting with a request for a date. One thing led to another and within a year we were married! I was 31 and he was 39 — a tad older than typical boomer marrying age.

God answered my prayers when He orchestrated my life story to bring Mike McDowell into my script! Would you believe that Mike embodies every single thing on my list? No? Well, then you’re right. He actually embodies everything except one. The last thing on my list was that my future husband “has never been married before”. God took one look at that request and LAUGHED! In His wisdom and sovereignty He knew what was better for me than what I was praying for. He brought me together with a widower with three small children whose first mother had died from liver cancer three years earlier. God gave me EVEN BETTER! Not just one amazing person but four! In fact my youngest daughter (who was actually born 5 years later) says that this is her favorite thing on the list because it reminds us that God loves to show control freaks that He knows best! I cannot imagine my life in any other way than the one in which I married a widower and adopted his/my first three children – yes all at the same time! (though it does make me tired to remember some of the details…)

Daughter Maggie had her own dreams of marriage…from an early age!

Mike is definitely my Better Half and we have grown through many challenges and joys in the past 29 years since we met in September 1983. Today we are walking a new chapter in the journey as both of our daughters are engaged to be married to the “answers” to their/our prayers! Our first family wedding is in just a few days and Mike and I took numerous walks this summer to strategically pray about the whole wedding weekend and how we hope everyone will experience love, welcome and grace. We are daily praying through the names of all those guests and we know that God knows just what each of them needs (coming from 17 states and 3 foreign countries). Can you tell I believe in praying through lists? And as soon as Maggie and Stephen are married we will continue to do the same as we pray for Fiona and Tim’s upcoming wedding and marriage in the months ahead.

I believe in praying through. Years ago when I was in seminary, Elisabeth Elliot referred me constantly to this verse when I would lament the lack of a special man in my life. “No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”  (Psalm 84.11) Needless to say, I pray All Good Things for my (now six) children. But I know that life is hard and sometimes – many times – our prayers are not at all answered in the way we deeply desire. The mystery is that God answers what is best  — yes, no or wait. Though He may not always give the answer we want, He does always give Himself and His presence to us. He is faithful.

So, go ahead make a List. Pray through it. Be prepared to be surprised. Be prepared to be blessed. “God is for you. I can’t promise God will always give you the answer you want. I can’t promise that He will answer on your timeline. But I can promise this: He answers every prayer, and He keeps every promise. That is Who He is. That is what He does. And if you have the faith to dream big, pray hard, and think long, there is nothing God loves more than proving His faithfulness.” (Mark Batterson)

On our 25th Anniversary we renewed our vows in front of those who have watched us try to keep them through the years!

under the mercy, Cindy a.k.a. Mother of the Bride(s)

©2012 Lucinda Secrest McDowell

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7 Responses to MY LIST or “24 Things I Want in a Husband”

  1. Hi Cindy, I loved reading this post. What a great example of God’s faithfulness to you and your family.

  2. Susan Secrest Waters says:

    This is so great and inspiring! I can’t wait to print it and share with mama! So proud of you and Mike and the ministry you have together- what a testimony! Love you-

  3. Ha-ha, Cindy, I remember this list! And I remember your search, and praise God for the blessings that have flowed since those days, in you and through you. Mike is a gem, and your family is rising up to call you blessed. I rejoice with you in these happy times. —Mary Holder Naegeli

  4. Karen Hearl says:

    and God knew what a great team you would be…full of grace, hospitality and modeling…You are such a blessing to me. I wear my fruit of the spirit bracelet every day. You both are such encouragers. And now what a wonderful privilege you have as parents of the “brides..”

  5. Maggie says:

    Loved this post, Cindy. What a great reminder that God not only gives us the desires of our heart in accordance with his will, but He also knows far better than we do what should really be on our ‘lists.” I sent a copy of your post to a friend turning 32 tomorrow who just met the godly man of her dreams other than the fact that he was married before.

  6. The Whitmers says:

    Cindy, I love this blog post. I also loved your list. What an encouragement to all of us to “pray big” and leave the rest with our great God. Have a wonderful, moment by moment experience as a “MOB”…we rejoice with you and your family at this time of celebration. Mary (and Jim)

  7. Lori says:

    sharing this with my daughter

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