Miracles Happen One Day at a Time

Miracles Happen One Day at a Time

By Lucinda Secrest McDowell 


Justin and his Daddy – Lopez lsand, Washington

“What do you think his future will be?” she asked, after observing my little boy in an agitated state outside the Sunday School classroom.

“Honestly, I don’t know. We’re just living one day at a time…” I mumbled, while grabbing Justin’s hand and heading off to retrieve my other kids.

I didn’t know. What the future would be for my eldest child. Born at a time when “mental retardation” was the diagnosis (thankfully, we don’t use the “R word” anymore). While words like that tend to put people in a box, I chose to receive them as a challenge!

“By God’s grace, we will raise this child to live to his highest capabilities…and beyond!” I determined, with both fear and anticipation.

     40thbdaycandlesAnd now, this week is Justin’s 40th birthday.

31 years of living “one day at a time” have occurred since my conversation outside that Seattle Sunday School.

I won’t lie to you. It has been hard. And sometimes terribly frustrating. And occasionally heart-breaking.

Raising a child with special needs can put us through the whole spectrum of emotions. Sometimes all in a single day.

Still, parenting Justin McDowell has been Pure Joy. And that’s the truth.


Justin and his Mama We are so much alike!

In our family, when someone has a Birthday, we all go around the table and tell the guest of honor something that we appreciate about them. I’d like to do that publicly here for my son Justin. What are just a few of the qualities of the man who has enriched my life and our family in countless ways?

AUTHENTIC Justin tells it like it is. There is absolutely no guile, no pretense in his soul or demeanor. Now, of course this means we have been forced to live utterly transparent lives, since some things are shared without filter. But that’s not exactly a bad thing…smile.

HELPFUL Justin helps his Mama and Dad all the time with mowing the lawn, moving furniture, carrying luggage, setting the table or cleaning up a family dinner. And through his prayers and verbal encouragement. But he also helps people I will never know. He constantly volunteers to help folks move, help with children, help at church suppers, in his neighborhood and at work. He has a servant’s heart.

DETERMINED Justin has overcome much in his life. He is determined to do what others can do – such as go on an overseas mission trip (twice) or learn to snow ski black diamond trails in Canada, or learn how to type on a computer keyboard. When he faces an obstacle, he doesn’t back down and thus has shown courage and perseverance repeatedly.


Uncle Justin

FAITHFUL If you ask Justin to pray for you, he will. He calls me up before every speaking engagement and prays for me and my audience and my travels. He prays for his family and when he first met his baby niece, he promptly laid hands on her little head and claimed her for God, praying for that day in the future when she would ask Jesus into her heart (with absolutely no prompting from us!).

LOYAL Justin is a friend who will stand beside you when times are good and when times are hard (though, remember he will be sure to ‘tell it like it is’ which might include some advice…).  He believes the best in people and doesn’t give up on them. He offers grace and forgiveness readily. You definitely want him on your side.

GIVING Of course I wrote all about Justin in my latest book “Live These Words” under the day which illustrates the verb “give.” Because Justin is always giving away anything he has that he thinks somebody else needs more than he does. Mostly he gives words of encouragement and praise to help support his friends or sports teammates, or colleagues.

Team Connecticut Tennis

Special Olympics National Games – Justin (2nd from left) won Gold for Tennis!

Justin was 9 years old when I became his mother and I honestly didn’t know what his future would hold. I had no idea how his ‘differing abilities’ would play out amidst a competitive and fast-paced world of success and achievement. Today I am utterly grateful that he was able to earn his food services certificate from Manchester Community College, has worked at Red Lobster for 18 years, has lived in his own apartment (with some support) for 15 years, walks and buses everywhere, holds gold medals in tennis for several International Special Olympics,  and helps with Prison Ministry, Alpha and VBS at our church in addition to several Bible studies.


Justin at the “Live These Words” Book Launch – 2014

Is there someone in your life who has been “labeled” with a disability? Please don’t ever give up. Keep pouring into their lives and urging them to fulfill the unique purpose and place God has for them. One day you might just turn around and celebrate another 40th birthday with Joy!

Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And He chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.” 1 Corinthians 1:26-27 NLT

 under the mercy, Cindy

Read my 2010 post “Disabilities or Differing Abilities” by clicking here.

 ©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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5 Responses to Miracles Happen One Day at a Time

  1. Kathy says:

    Inspiring and eye opening. If only all of us could see and feel as Justin does.
    The world would be our oyster and we would all get along. He makes me
    want to be a more loving and a non judgmental daughter of Christ. I will
    keep that uppermost in my heart.
    Thanks Cindy

  2. maggierowe says:

    What a wonderful tribute to Justin, Cindy, and what encouraging words for all those who love someone with differing abilities. You have been and continue to be an amazing mama of God’s design to this amazing young man!

  3. Michael McDowell says:

    Cindy, You have so beautifully captured the wonderful man and loving servant of God has become. I pray that God will grant him many, many years! And I am so grateful for the privilege of being Justin’s father and continue to learn from my eldest son those things in life that really matter and are of eternal value. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” describes Justin.

  4. Sarah says:

    What a privilege to hear about Justin, his admirable qualities and his example of determination and endurance. God has helped you, Cindy, with those same qualities, taking one day at a time, and now, unbelievably, 31 years have gone by (31!) and we all can see the glory of God in your family. Tell Justin happy birthday from North Carolina!

  5. Joseline says:

    Your words bring tears to my eyes, auntie Cindy! Beuatiful son you and uncle Mike have helped to become! Justin is one of a kind of wonderfull. With love, Joseline.

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