“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (Psalm 42:11–NIV).

Sometimes we meet people we just know will influence our lives.

I met Lucinda Secrest McDowell at Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference in 2017, having chosen to attend her workshop.

Her devotional Dwelling Places–Words to Live in Every Season (Abingdon Press, 2016) was fresh on the shelves, and I was eager to get my hands on a copy.

Lucinda spoke to our gathering, sharing from her wealth of experience, and with a joy that overflowed–telling us not only about her journey of writing but offering encouragement and helpful information on how we, too, might flourish as writers.

One thing I’ll never forget–have had the privilege of experiencing more than once to date–is how she concludes her teaching times. Prior to sending us out the door, she blesses those in attendance with song. A cappella, she sang from her soul, and though I don’t recall the exact lyrics the first time I sat under her teaching, her melodic benediction impacted me. It was beautiful.

A gift!

The next day, I ran into Lucinda in the hallway between classes.

“I so enjoyed your teaching,” I said, feeling a bit star-struck, though she’d never want that.

“Oh, I’m so glad.” Leaning in, she read my lanyard. “Maureen, is it? Nice to meet you,” and she hugged me. Pulling away then, her eyes fixed on the silver chain around my neck, and she smiled. “I love your necklace.”

Momentarily forgetting which one I was wearing, my hand went to my neck, and I knew. “Oh, thank you. It was a gift from a friend. And see? It opens.” I separated the small bauble that hung from the chain, revealing three small, blue beads.

“Oh, a nest!” Lucinda exclaimed. “That’s precious.”

“Yes, it represents my three children.”

Again, she looked closely. “How special. I love it!”

We chatted for a few moments before she headed to her next class, and as I turned to walk toward mine, I heard His whisper.

Send her a necklace like yours.

Isn’t that so sweet of the Lord? Always the Giver of good gifts, I love it when He allows me to be on the giving end of such transactions.

After returning home, I did just that. Having done some reconnaissance, I was able to order the same necklace with the appropriate number of “eggs” inside–each representing one of Lucinda’s children.

This birthed a friendship, and I’ve been so blessed by this woman of God. She wrote to thank me for the gift, sending me a doily stitched with pansies–a favorite flower of ours and symbolic of the theme of my personal blog Penning Pansies. To say this was special is an understatement.

We continued to communicate via email, and Lucinda invited me to a New England writers’ retreat the following year. What a joy to be among so many wonderful writers at reNEW who, like me, desired to share the love of Christ through words. I’d never been to New England, and being there in October–well, one can only imagine the splendor!

Since that inspiring weekend in 2018, Lucinda and I have remained friends. Although reNEW 2020 was cancelled, there was a gathering of women at a 1-day retreat in 2021. Even though I was unable to attend, I was invited to write a devotion for a collaborative project Lucinda and her business partner and friend Rachel Britton were planning, to be published the following year–in early 2022.

What a joy to be included in The Courage to Write62 Devotions to Encourage Your Writing Journey, which is now a contender for the 2023 Selah Awards in the “Anthology” category.

Lucinda is the award-winning author of 16 books, one being a powerful study called Soul StrongI used this book when I met with a small group of young women a couple years ago, and each was impacted by Lucinda’s anointed words and wisdom–a true biblical scholar who speaks to the heart in a down-to-earth and tender manner.

One other unique caveat, something I learned some time ago, is that Lucinda was friends with the late Elisabeth Elliot. While a student at Gordon-Conwell Seminary in New England, she was her assistant–helping her with everything from housework and chauffeuring to organizing Elisabeth’s writing, especially as she compiled her late husband Jim Elliot’s letters for a book. (Many may remember Jim was one of five missionary men killed in the jungles of Ecuador by the Auca Indians in 1956.)

Truly, there are so many unique facets to this amazing, though humble, woman of God. As a mentor, she’s becoming a spiritual mother to women too many to count. Not only a spiritual mother, however, she married her husband Mike, a widower, and adopted his three young children. They later had a daughter together, making Lucinda a wonderful mother of four.

How sad I was to learn recently that my friend is battling advanced gynecological cancer. It seems nearly impossible–this ‘soul-strong’ woman of God having to face something so horrific. And yet, as many know all too well, cancer is no discriminator of persons. It happens to the best of people, disrupting life and ministry, causing one to set aside plans and dreams.

What I do know, without doubt, is that Lucinda–

  • Knows in Whose arms she rests.
  • Knows the One who holds her future.
  • Trusts Him and loves Him, despite any dark day she’s to face.

Still, selfishly, I want her here. Won’t you pray with me.

Ask the Lord to be near her during this time of unknowns.

Ask Him to give her peace in this journey.

Ask that her doctors find treatment that works.

And ask that she find comfort as she endures whatever that requires.

Also, please pray for her husband Mike and her children and grandchildren–all who love her most. And pray for the many whose lives have been touched by her words–her beautifully crafted storytelling that always, always points readers to Jesus. Our lives are richer because of Lucinda, and this world will never be the same because of her presence in it.

As the psalmist proclaims, I know Lucinda has put her hope in God and is praising Him, even in this storm. As she writes–

My child, there is always a purpose in pain. Suffering is not for nothing, indeed. But in order to find the beauty in the ashes, you must submit to Me and trust that I am still Lord. And I am giving all you need to come out on the other side, radiant and renewed. I will truly “bring you safe through every loss” (Dwellling Places, on “Suffering,” p. 184).

So why should I be downcast? After all, because of the beautiful influence of my precious friend Lucinda, I trust in my Savior and my God.

Indeed, all glory to Him!