Two Words on My Birthday

Two Words on My Birthday

 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?”

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“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 birthday – a significant one actually. Okay, there. I said it. Out loud. To all the world. And now I only have one more thing to say. Really. Two words on my birthday:

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…
  • Thank You, MIKE, for choosing me and loving me sacrificially for 35 years. Wow. No words. You are the Love of my life always….
  • Thank You, FRIENDS, who have the courage to sometimes say the hard things when I need 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 response to my calling….
  • Thank You READERS & LISTENERS of my many attempts at creatively communicating “encouraging words” that impart Life and Purpose and Power. My passion really is “helping you choose a life of serenity & strength!” As long as the doors keep opening, I’ll keep walking through — pen and microphone in hand….
  • Thank You, JUSTIN, TIM, FIONA & TIM and MAGGIE & STEPHEN for allowing me the ultimate privilege of figuring out this whole motherhood thing as we grew up together. Thank you for Saoirse, Hugh, and Thomas – a delight in my life this day! You indeed are my deepest Joy, my greatest Lifework….   May you never forget these simple yet profound truths: “Life is hard. God is good. All the time.”

So today, May 23, 2018, 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.’

“My work is loving the world… Are my boots worn? Is my coat torn? Am I no longer young, and still not half perfect? Let me keep my mind on what matters, which is my work, which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished.” ~ Mary Oliver “Messenger

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

under the mercy, Lucinda

“Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity and Strength”

©2018 Lucinda Secrest McDowell        http://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” ($10.99) at ChristianBook.com — best price online!

 

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God’s Safe House

God’s Safe House

Lucinda Secrest McDowell

The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.  Psalm 9.9

Where was your safe place when you were a child? I had a tree-house with walls and a sturdy ladder – high up above everyone else. There I could escape the noise, conflict, or the crowd. I could dream. I felt comfortable, cozy, and somehow protected.

Perhaps you had a bedroom corner, a homemade tent, or a spot in the backyard. But where do you go today – now that you’re a grown-up and it seems impossible to hide from the world?

Even if you have a favorite easy chair, reality encroaches as cell phones beckon and people demand that you meet their immediate needs.

But who will meet your need for security and safety?

Where can you still the pounding of your heart, breathe calmly and know deep in your soul that you are truly loved and accepted?

Only in the Lord. As the psalmist says He alone is our shelter when we are oppressed. God alone is our “refuge in times of trouble.”

He is the best safe house ever! Because no matter where we are or what is happening, we can rest in His protective presence.

Lord, the world is scary; help me turn to You for continual refuge. Amen.

under the mercy, Lucinda

“Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity and Strength”

©2018 Lucinda Secrest McDowell        http://www.EncouragingWords.net 

Today’s blog is adapted from one of my devotionals in the new book/journal “Just Breathe!  ORDER your own leatherette copy here ($11.47)

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” ($8.79) or “Dwelling Places” ($10.99) at ChristianBook.com — best price online!

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Waiting with Hope

Waiting with Hope

Lucinda Secrest McDowell

Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. Psalm 62.5

It never seems to come. That answer to prayer, resolution of a problem, or reconciled relationship.

We want to hope for good things. We believe God is hearing us. But how long must we wait?

Will stamping our feet and shouting angrily “I’ve had enough, God, why don’t you come through for me?” prompt Him to respond quicker? I think not. But feel free to do that, if you choose – God can handle it.

A better way is to “wait quietly.”

That doesn’t mean that we are totally silent and passive. It means that we choose to come before Him with a humble spirit and a receptive heart. One that listens instead of speaking. One that continues to choose to believe that God is in control, even when we see no visible evidence of such.

One who hopes.

A hope not founded in the institutions of the world or the inherent goodness in people – for truly both will fail us at times. A hope based solely “in Him.”

God is worthy. God is able. Will you wait quietly before Him, ready to receive the answers in His way and time?

Lord, give me patience in waiting for your good answers. Amen.

under the mercy, Lucinda

“Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity and Strength”

©2018 Lucinda Secrest McDowell        http://www.EncouragingWords.net 

Today’s blog is adapted from one of my devotionals in the new book/journal “Just Breathe!  ORDER your own leatherette copy here ($11.47)

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” ($8.79) or “Dwelling Places” ($10.99) at ChristianBook.com — best price online!

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Are You Ready to Leave the Nest?

Are You Ready to Leave the Nest?

Lucinda Secrest McDowell

          Baby eagles do not just begin to fly because they want to be adventurous. Instead, they are forced from the safety of their nest.

          By loving parents.

          Who actually begin to starve their little fledglings so that increasingly the comfort of provision and protection is removed. And they have no alternative but to look for more… So they burrow around for pieces of bone or meat embedded in the nest and they inevitably lose weight from lack of food.

          Soon they clumsily try to fly, but their first several tries often end in crash landings. Still, as they lose their baby fat and become more playful, they also find it easier to catch a draft and soar a bit whilst trying to use their wings.

Although it seems the parents are being cruel in withholding food and comfort to them, they are actually doing their eagle fledgling a service by forcing it to want more and eventually take the great risk of leaving the nest in order to find it.

          Do you ever feel stuck?

          Is your familiar ‘nest’ becoming increasingly uncomfortable, perhaps forcing you to look for more? Quite possibly your heavenly Father is nudging you forward – to something new. He knows you will have the strength to do it (because He plans to provide it) but you may be holding back in hesitation.

“They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40.31 NIV

          Friend, send up a prayer and then leap out “on wings like eagles” – God is with you!

under the mercy, Lucinda

“Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity and Strength”

©2018 Lucinda Secrest McDowell        http://www.EncouragingWords.net 

Today’s blog is adapted from one of my devotionals in the new book “Let the Earth Rejoice” – 365 daily devotions celebrating God’s Creation!  ORDER your own hardcover copy here ($10.99)

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” ($8.79) or “Dwelling Places” ($10.99) at ChristianBook.com — best price online!

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Helping Kids Climb

Helping Kids Climb

Lucinda Secrest McDowell

         “I cannot believe you actually climbed this mountain!” I exclaimed to my son under the shadow of the Grand Teton near Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

          It was huge. And majestic.

          And I remembered receiving a photo from him fifteen years prior – literally hanging off that mountain. Back then, photos were not texted “in real time” so even though I was horrified, I could at least breathe easy, knowing he had survived to mail it to me.

          Truth be told, I’m glad my son has the courage to climb mountains. And he has certainly been doing it his whole life, one way or another. While he was always blessed with good health and a love of the great outdoors, there were crucial challenges that forced him to make the wiser, harder choices. The steep upward climb of obedience and discipline. Such things strain every muscle and demand full attention.

“The Sovereign Lord is my strength. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.” Habakkuk 3.19 

          How do we pass along courage and perseverance to our children? By reminding them daily that “the Sovereign Lord is my strength.” Only He can provide the kind of spiritual, moral and yes physical strength needed for the mountains of life. But also by preparing them that yes, life is quite often an uphill climb which requires great endurance – “ a long obedience in the same direction.”

As the 19th century poet Christina Rossetti said:

  • Does the road wind up-hill all the way? 
  • Yes, to the very end. 
  • Will the day’s journey take the whole long day? 
  • From morn to night, my friend. 

          Life is indeed a climb, but one day, we all shall stand on the heights. With God.

under the mercy, Lucinda

“Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity and Strength”

©2018 Lucinda Secrest McDowell        http://www.EncouragingWords.net 

Today’s blog is adapted from one of my devotionals in the new book “Let the Earth Rejoice” – 365 daily devotions celebrating God’s Creation!  ORDER your own hardcover copy here ($10.99)

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” ($8.79) or “Dwelling Places” ($10.99) at ChristianBook.com — best price online!

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Is There Any Quiet in Manhattan?

Is There Any Quiet in Manhattan?

Lucinda Secrest McDowell

After only one day of navigating New York City I am exhausted.

A cacophony of sounds – horns, yells, loud music. A mass of humanity – crushing crowds, tourists stopped in the middle of the sidewalk, homeless veterans. A tangle of transportation – first the train, then subway, boat, bus and subway again.

By the time the A Train spits me out at my kids’ apartment in upper Manhattan, I desperately need a respite. A strong cup of hot tea, feet propped up on a stool and the cool breeze of the air conditioner revive me for the next step. I’m ready to venture with my daughter and granddog across the street.

To the park.

Truly an oasis among the high rise buildings. Greenery against the gray. Upon entering, I feel transformed into a calmer, gentler person. One who ambles slowly down the paths and finds delight when the dog stops at every bush. Why not stop? We are not in a hurry here.

I am grateful that a hundred years ago John D. Rockefeller purchased this land and hired Frederick Law Olmstead to design Fort Tryon Park. This city park boasts one of the most unspoiled views of the Hudson River as well as eight miles of walking paths along a rocky topography.  Today our path ends at The Cloisters, a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art made up of French monastery courtyards.

Even Jesus reinforced this need in all of us and urged his busy disciples, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.”  Mark 6.31 NLT

God longs to meet us daily in such a place.

Whether we live in the midst of the city, the country or somewhere in between. We all need to choose an oasis – a place apart where we can go to be still and listen.

under the mercy, Lucinda

“Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity and Strength”

©2018 Lucinda Secrest McDowell        http://www.EncouragingWords.net 

Today’s blog is adapted from one of my devotionals in the new book “Let the Earth Rejoice” – 365 daily devotions celebrating God’s Creation!  ORDER your own hardcover copy here ($10.99)

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” ($8.79) or “Dwelling Places” ($10.99) at ChristianBook.com — best price online!

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A Lifetime of Help

A Lifetime of Help

 Lucinda Secrest McDowell

When in doubt, read the Psalms.  This amazing book is found smack dab in the middle of your Bible and I suspect that if you open it every day, God will have a Good Word for you — one relevant and appropriate for whatever you are facing.

I especially love the poetry and prayer and praise of the psalms.

Today I was reading Psalm 71 — thankful for God’s Help through the years… “Those who pray the psalms are aware that, in spite of their own infidelities to God over the years, God has nonetheless remained faithful. Second century Bishop Polycarp, when pressured to either renounce his faith or die a violent death, said ‘For eighty-six years have I served Him, and He has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme the King who saved me?‘” (Christ in the Psalms by Patrick Henry Reardon) 

Here are some of my own thoughts as I work through Psalm 71…

SAFETY

1 O Lord, I have come to you for protection; don’t let me be disgraced. 2 Save me and rescue me, for you do what is right. Turn your ear to listen to me, and set me free. Is there a situation or habit in your life right now that you desperately need to be freed from? Are you fearful of the consequences of threatening circumstances (or even people) in your life? May I suggest that when these times come, we also turn to God for protection and pray these verses.

SEASONS

9 And now, in my old age, don’t set me aside. Don’t abandon me when my strength is failing. 10 For my enemies are whispering against me. They are plotting together to kill me. 11 They say, “God has abandoned him. Let’s go and get him, for no one will help him now.” Are you simply exhausted from the battles of life? Are you in a season where body, mind and soul are beginning to weaken in some ways? Do you ever feel like a forgotten person, as if no one knows what you are going through and worse, no one cares? Be careful, because in such fragile seasons, we leave a crack in our spiritual armor for the enemy to come and inflict great harm on us emotionally and spiritually. If you are at such a point in life, send up what I like to call an ‘arrow prayer’ 12 O God, don’t stay away. My God, please hurry to help me.

SAY SO!

14 But I will keep on hoping for your help; I will praise you more and more. 15 I will tell everyone about your righteousness. All day long I will proclaim your saving power, though I am not skilled with words. 16 I will praise your mighty deeds, O Sovereign Lord. I will tell everyone that you alone are just. In the midst of challenging circumstances we can choose to trust in God’s Help and be people of Hope. Are you going to give up or will you live out your faith in a radical way by choosing to Thank God privately and to publicly pronounce His faithfulness and goodness in your life? Do you think others are watching as you go through tough times? What words do they hear from you?

SONS (and DAUGHTERS too)

18 Now that I am old and gray, do not abandon me, O God. Let me proclaim your power to this new generation, your mighty miracles to all who come after me. If you have been blessed with years, then what shall you do with your status today in a world that worships youth? Be a wise woman or a mentoring man. Don’t focus on what you have lost, but make every opportunity to declare what God has done in your long life! The greatest gift we can ever give a younger generation (and certainly our own sons and daughters) is to recount God’s faithfulness and provision in the hard times of our lives. This is a testimony they cannot ignore. What story of seeing God’s miraculous hand at work will you tell a new generation today?

SUFFERING

20 You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but you will restore me to life again and lift me up from the depths of the earth. 21 You will restore me to even greater honor and comfort me once again. I know there has been suffering in your life, and you might even be going through some right now. But do you believe that God can truly Restore and Lift and Comfort you? This is a biblical promise from Psalm 71 and I hope each of us can pray these verses today, knowing that He is able to meet us in our deepest place, and not leave us there.

SHOUT

23 I will shout for joy and sing your praises, for you have ransomed me. 24 I will tell about your righteous deeds all day long, for everyone who tried to hurt me has been shamed and humiliated. And this is how the psalm ends – with shouting! And singing for joy at what God has done in our lives! We may not live to see our ‘enemies’ thwarted, but each of us who has read the whole Bible knows the ending — God Wins! So why not tell about God’s righteous deeds ‘all day long’? Sure, you can do it in subtle ways at work, or you can seek to comfort others with the comfort you received by sharing a prayer or verse that helped you. There are many ways to shout and sing with both sensitivity and substance. Just remember, we only have this one day to glorify God.

Will we be like the anonymous psalmist here and leave a legacy of PRAISE?

under the mercy, Lucinda

“Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity and Strength”

©2018 Lucinda Secrest McDowell        http://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” ($8.79) or “Dwelling Places” ($10.99) at ChristianBook.com — best price online!

 

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