Friends! This week we’re in for a real treat. We’ll be hearing from an author friend of mine, Lucinda Secrest McDowell (Cindy) who seems to have a “word” for us all, namely yours truly on a regular basis. I’ve written about a couple of her beautiful, inspirational books in previous posts:
Cindy is a gifted writer. She’s been mercifully gracious to me and our Tuesday Bible study group recently when we had the privilege of studying her book Refresh!
This week we get to hear straight from Cindy, gleaning inspirational words from her newest devotional, Dwelling Places.
Please join me in reading Cindy’s post we can all relate to as I rush out the door…:
When Will You Finally Slow Down?
Lucinda Secrest McDowell
Driving through Pebble Hill Plantation I saw the road sign that caused me to grind to a halt.
“Slow Down. I Mean It!”
And Pansy Poe, the owner of this beautiful estate outside my Georgia hometown, had signed her name to give it more authority.
Actually, God could have authored that sign as well.
I believe He sends signs warning me to “Slow Down” all the time, but I’m usually running by too quickly to notice. Missing what God has for me – “My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.” (Isaiah 32.18)
Or, as one seasoned pastor advises, “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry.”
When was the last time you really rested? Hard to do, isn’t it? Our environment is constantly depleting us with noise, distractions and the compulsion to always be in a hurry. We are just too busy to rest.
“Busyness does not mean you are a faithful or fruitful Christian. It only means that you are busy, just like everyone else,” claims Kevin DeYoung, a pastor and father of six who struggles with finding true rest. “It’s not wrong to be tired. It’s not wrong to feel overwhelmed. It’s not wrong to go through seasons of complete chaos. What is wrong – and heartbreakingly foolish and wonderfully avoidable – is to live a life with more craziness than we want because we have less Jesus than we need.”
Do you want more of Jesus and His rest?
I believe our greatest threat is distraction. Did you know the root of this word is the Latin word distractus which literally means “to draw or pull apart?” No wonder we feel torn in every direction!
The author of “Sanctuary of the Soul” says that we have noisy hearts. “The fact that our schedules are piled high and we are constantly bombarded by multiple stimuli only betrays that we have succumbed to the modern mania that keeps us perpetually distracted. The moment we seek to enter the creative silences of meditative prayer, every demand screams for our attention.”
How can we quiet our hearts and discover these “undisturbed places of rest?”
Unplug. Sign out. Turn off. Hang up. Be ‘Closed for the Weekend.’ Clean up your surroundings so fewer projects call out your name. Put sleep and ‘nothing’ on your agenda and then keep those appointments. Determine your greatest distractions and energy-drainers and decide to be proactive about curbing their power over you.
And then go to Jesus and rest in His care. “Faith means resting – relying – not on who we are, or what we can do, or how we feel or what we know. Faith is resting in who God is and what He has done. And He has done everything.”
Slow Down. I Mean It!
©2016 Lucinda Secrest McDowell Excerpted from “Dwelling Places” by Lucinda Secrest McDowell (Abingdon Press)
Lucinda Secrest McDowell is passionate about embracing life — both through deep soul care from drawing closer to God, as well as living courageously in order to touch a needy world. A storyteller who engages both heart and mind, she offers “Encouraging Words” to all on the journey. A graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Furman University, Cindy is the author of twelve books, including Dwelling Places, Live These Words, Refresh!, Amazed by Grace, Quilts from Heaven and Role of a Lifetime. Whether co-directing the “New England Christian Writers Retreat,” mentoring young moms, or leading a restorative day of prayer, she is energized by investing in people of all ages. Cindy’s favorites include tea parties, good books, laughing friends, ancient prayers, country music, cozy quilts, musical theatre, and especially her family scattered around the world doing amazing things. She writes from “Sunnyside” cottage in New England and blogs weekly at EncouragingWords.net
Thank you, Cindy! Wonderful words of encouragement…
Finally, let’s ask her a couple of questions:
How did you come to write this book?
LSM: So…. how did I come to write a book called “Dwelling Places?” Honestly, this one-word-a-day devotion (meant to both inspire and teach) came out of my own need to know. And to grow.
Every year I choose a “word from the Lord” and find myself marinating in what it means to my life on all levels — spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically. Last year the word was DWELL and as I explored the many facets of DWELL, I recognized my own desire to learn how to dwell in peace and serenity and joy and hope; rather than spend my time in exhaustion and hurry, chaos and confusion.
Turns out God’s Word is full of dwelling places – those sanctuaries of refuge and abiding. In my new book “Dwelling Places” I offer 130 of those words and unwrap their meaning through storytelling, biblical teaching and hundreds of quotes from hymns and godly people who are my own teachers.
There are actually four sections which can be read at any time, but they include 30 days for Advent and 40 days for Lent if you’re interested in trying out that special discipline during the church year. DWELL (Fall) SHINE (Advent) RENEW (Lent) GROW (Summer) OR just read any word, any page at any time.
I loved writing this book and felt each word and verse were truly given to me. I absolutely know the benedictions at the end came straight from God through my pen. I am humbled and grateful to be able to share these words.
Why should people read Dwelling Places?
LSM: My observation is that people everywhere are hungering for refuge. A safe place. A true home where they can live authentically. Ask the hard questions, and receive all the grace and mercy needed after devastation. In my speaking and writing I long to help show that all throughout God’s Word the precious concept of “dwelling in His constant presence” is lifted up. In the Old Testament we are directed to sanctuary, refuge, and called to Be Still. In the New Testament we are encouraged that Christ wants to make His home in our hearts.
So I decided to write a devotional that lifted up these concepts – each day based on One Word in a key verse. My goal is that throughout the stories that are shared, the biblical and historical profiles mentioned, the hymns, poetry, and even children’s books will all work together to help teach the reader how to live the deeper “with God” life. But at the same time enjoy the process of knowing where to find hope, grace and mercy. In other words, these are words that touch a hurting world. Everything I do must have a practical aspect so I hope there is a takeaway each day on how to live the word you have just been reading about. Also, I felt compelled to offer a short benediction, as though God were now giving His blessing and charge on your going forth, now strengthened with His Word in your heart and mind.
Will you share some favorite quotes from Dwelling Places?
“So I embraced both meanings of dwell: 1. To live 2. To focus. It soon became obvious that all too often I live amid hurry and obligation, dwelling in anxiety and surrounded by noise. And where was my default focus – circumstances, lists, self-preservation, tasks, things? No more.” Lucinda Secrest McDowell in “Dwelling Places” (from “Dwell” p. 2)
“We all carry soul wounds. Scars from childhood family skirmishes. Scratches from professional rejection. Scabs from physical trauma we never saw coming. Limps from having fallen one time too many. What are your souvenirs of suffering and what will you do with them?” Lucinda Secrest McDowell in “Dwelling Places” (from “Wounds” p. 144)
THANK YOU CINDY! AS ALWAYS A PLEASURE TO SPEND TIME WITH YOU.
‘Til next time!
P.S. Don’t forget about Book Club, next Monday night, September 26th, with author Kristy Cambron coming to discuss her book The Ringmaster’s Wife. 6:30-8:00 p.m., at Middletown United Methodist Church, in Louisville, KY. Bring a friend and join us!