When All You Can Say Is…Thank You

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell  

It seems to happen in the blink of an eye. One day you’re young and out to change the world, and the next day you turn around and six decades have flown by while you were simply living ‘one day at a time!’

Don’t scoff, my friend. If you haven’t yet experienced this phenomenon, your day will come (barring the undesirable alternative, of course). And when it does, you may find yourself — as indeed I have — in deep contemplation “How have I spent this one wild and beautiful life?”

cindyslarge5thbirthdaywish (2)

“For Your mercy and Your grace, Constant through another year, Hear our song of thankfulness, Father and Redeemer, hear! Keep us faithful, keep us pure, Keep us evermore Your own; Help, O help us to endure; Fit us for the promised crown.” (hymn by Henry Downton 1818-1885)

Today is my 60th birthday. Okay, there. I said it. Out loud. To all the world. And now I only have one more thing to say. Really. The only thing I can say is…… Thank You.

  • Thank You, GOD, for the gift of Life and Health — and Your Grace and Mercy which allow me to go forth each day seeking to make a difference….
  • Thank You, MAMA & DADDY, for making sure I was deeply loved, fully provided for and graciously launched into life with a Bible/Newspaper in one hand and a Map/Etiquette book in the other….
  • Thank You, FAMILY. You might not have chosen me as kinfolk, but you have certainly stuck by me all these years and shown up at the most crucial times with casseroles, music, gifts and all kinds of advice…
  • cindyat60Thank You, MIKE, for choosing me and loving me sacrificially for 30 years. Wow. No words. You are the Love of my life always….
  • Thank You, FRIENDS, who had the courage to sometimes say the hard things when I needed to hear them, but who always remind me in countless ways that I am never alone….
  • Thank You, COLLEAGUES in writing, speaking, teaching and ministry, because you indeed “know-what-my-life-is-like” as you push me towards excellence and integrity in responding to my calling….
  • Thank You READERS & LISTENERS of my many attempts at creatively communicating “encouraging words” that impart Life and Purpose and Power. As long as the doors keep opening, I’ll keep walking through — pen and microphone in hand….
  • Thank You, JUSTIN, TIM, FIONA and MAGGIE for allowing me the ultimate privilege of figuring out this whole motherhood thing as we grew up together. May you never forget these simple yet profound truths: “Life is hard. God is good. All the time.” You indeed are my deepest Joy, my greatest Lifework….

The year I turned twenty-five I was living near Boston as a seminary student and lodger/typist for author Elisabeth Elliot, now 85 years old. These birthday thoughts by her were meaningful then, and are still spot on, I believe:

1950s Happy Woman In Party Dress at New Years Eve Celebration“What I want to wish you today is joy. I want you to have the happiest birthday ever. Not because you’re just exactly the age you’ve always dreamed of being: the perfect age. Not because you’ll be having the splashiest, roaringest party ever, or because you’re surrounded by all your favorite fans, feeling marvelous, getting a vast pile of gorgeous gifts. I could merely wish you a happy birthday, but I’ll do more than that. I’ll turn my wish into prayer, and ask the Lord to give you the happiest birthday ever. I’ll ask him for the kind of joy that isn’t dependent on how you feel or who’s there to celebrate or what’s happening.

The bad news is that another year has gone by and we haven’t done all we meant to do and it’s not going to come back to give us another chance. The good news is the Gospel. We can be reconciled to God–sins forgiven, fears taken care of. I pray for you on your birthday, that your path, as is promised to the just man, will shine not less and less but more and more; that you will still bring forth fruit in old age; that the Lord will give you a thankful heart.

birthdaycakeSo — Happy Birthday! If you have friends and parties and presents, be thankful for such bonuses. If you have no friends with you today, no party, not a package to open, you still have a long list of things to thank God for, things that matter much more. A birthday filled with thanksgiving and hope is the happiest kind of birthday. Have one of those! Deck yourself with joy!” ~ Elisabeth Elliot

So today, May 23, 2013, my heart is full. My life is full. (and my stomach is probably pretty full too by the time you read this and I’ve indulged in some celebration treats). Birthdays have a way of bringing life into perspective, don’t they? No, my life did not turn out the way I always imagined it would (we all have so many more challenges and struggles than the world will ever see, don’t we?), but it did turn out exactly the way God planned and allowed. He is sovereign. He holds all my days in the palm of His hand. And He will be the One to lead me into the future as I fully embrace each new day, hoping there will be many more occasions to ‘prove the promises of God.’

I taught my children that when they receive a gift, the only response is to say “Thank you.” I have received the Gift of sixty years… and all I can say is “Thank You.”

under the mercy, Cindy

“I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken.” Psalm 37.25

©2013 Lucinda Secrest McDowell


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  1. Carole Lewis says:

    Love it, Cindy! Love you too!

  2. Marty and Betsy West says:

    That is a wonderful post! Thanks for sharing it with us and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

  3. John says:

    Praise God- the hero in all our stories.
    Thank you, Sweet Cindy Secrest-McDowell for years of faithful encouragement to many people.

  4. Deb Haggerty says:

    Happiest of Birthdays, Cindy – may it be fantabulous! 🙂

  5. Connie says:

    Wonderful post of a life well lived…so far! Happy 60th!!!
    Pat & Connie Clements

  6. Glenda Restivo says:

    Think about you often! Happy Birthday! Glenda and Joe Restivo

    Sent from my iPhone

  7. Lael Arrington says:

    How like you to gi e US such a lovely gift of encouraging wordson your bday!

  8. maggierowe says:

    Great reflection, Cindy. I am right there with you…6 decades of years on the odometer but still 18 in my heart, and so very, very grateful for this one beautiful thing we call LIFE. I’m going dancing on my birthday – hope you do too!

  9. Very great post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wished to
    say that I’ve really loved browsing your blog posts.
    After all I will be subscribing in your feed and I hope you write once more soon!

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