Back to Preschool

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I remember a poster that said something like “Everything I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” Along that note, let me share what a savvy preschool teacher learned in childhood and later slowly taught her pupils, adding one line each week until they could say the whole thing by heart. (You could do that too!) And, please note, I have been unable to find the source. If you wrote this, or know who did, please say so!

Jesus! He’s got the power!

To make salvation mine,

To turn the water into wine.

He made the bleeding STOP!!

He made the lame man hop!

He made the blind man see,

He set the shriveled hand free.

He made the bent woman stand,

And fed 5,000 in the land!

He told the storm, “BE STILL”,

And walked on water at will.

He made the dead to rise,

And for us he died,

To wash our sins away,

So we can live with God one day.

Jesus is my King!!

He’s my King as well. And I’m in the process of memorizing this poem. I have no doubt it will be a go-to replay in my mind during troubled times. ‘Hope you’ll let it soak into your soul as well!

About Our Efforts

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We’ll get back to the wisdom of Hannah W. Smith soon. Today, though, I want to address the attitude we sometimes adopt regarding our call to service.

It’s too hard! A friend in full time mission work is convinced he is doing what God would have him do. He sees great results. And, for the most part, he loves it. On a particular day, though, feeling overwhelmed by the demands of his lot in life, he complained to a friend about what he had to do. His wise companion reminded him that he was going to get to do the tasks ahead, to which my friend responded, “It was a good reminder to shut up and stay grateful. And stop whining.”

It looks too small!  God often calls us to rather lowly acts. We may wonder if we are “contributing enough” even though our days are full. Let me share these words by Warren Buffett, penned in 2021 and edited just a bit for brevity.

“Today is a milestone for me. In 2006, I pledged to distribute all of my Berkshire Hathaway shares – more than 99% of my net worth – to philanthropy. With today’s $4.1 billion distribution, I’m halfway there. But consider this. Those who give their love and time in order to directly help others – perhaps adding a monetary gift that requires them to give up the purchase of something meaningful for their own use – are the real heroes of philanthropy. These people receive no recognition whether they mentor the young, assist the elderly or devote precious hours to community betterment. They do not have buildings named after them, but they silently make those establishments – schools, hospitals, churches, libraries, whatever – work smoothly to benefit those who have received the short straws in life.”

I wonder if I’ll have what it takes to stay the course. Let me share with you a few words by George Muller.

“Never let enter your minds a shadow of doubt as to the love of the Father’s heart or the power of the Father’s arm.”   

“I have been able, every day and all the day, to work, and that with ease, as I did seventy years ago.”

Be encouraged. And continue in your calling!

Hannah’s Secret Chapter 4: Surrender. (Or, Just Imagine…)

Imagine this.

You become very sick and are fortunate enough to see a famous specialist. At your first appointment, you begin by saying, “Please take me as a patient. I’ll follow your directions as long as they make sense to me. In some circumstances, though, I’ll choose to judge things for myself and follow my own advice.”

That doctor would probably refuse to take your case, saying, “I can’t help you unless you put yourself into my hands without reserve and trust my directions completely.”

We need to put our lives completely into the hands of God, following his directions without reserve. Surrendering to him boils down to saying, under all circumstances, “Your will be done.”

If you don’t know God, that sort of obedience may look difficult or even scary. But to those who know him, it is a happy and restful choice, because:

He is your Father.

He loves you.

He knows what is best for you.

And it is in his power to take the very best care of you.

Suppose a child of yours came to you and said, “I’ve made up my mind to let you be in charge. I’m always going to obey you and do whatever you think best.” How would you feel? Would you say to yourself, “Aha, now I can make my little one miserable?” Of course not! You’d fill the life of that child with all that was good, doing your best despite any fallibility in your choices and limits in your power. Surely we ought to have more confidence in saying, “Your will be done,” to our heavenly Father than any child could have in saying it to an earthly parent.

Step one toward a life of peace is surrender. Step two is faith, faith that we have a Savior from the power of sin, faith that he is now our deliverer and Lord, and faith that he wants the best for us this very day.

We cannot achieve a happy life of trust and peace by some special effort or talent on our part. It is only received as a gift of God. A gift is of no benefit until it is recognized and utilized by its recipient. Here are two ways to lay hold of the gift you have been offered.

1. Say these words, “Jesus saves me now!” with the conviction that The Lord Jesus does the work of saving you in every moment.

2. Pray this prayer. “Lord Jesus, I believe you deliver me from all the care and unrest of my life. I believe you are stronger than sin and can keep me from falling. I give myself to you, holding nothing back, body soul and spirit. Make me into anything your love and wisdom chooses. I trust you completely starting now.”

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Don’t worry. Be happy. (or The Hitchhiker) (or Hannah Chapter 3)

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What if we worried all night that our beds might give way and send us crashing to the floor? What sort of rest would that be? In the morning we’d probably be more worn out than if we hadn’t gone to bed at all. That describes the mistake we make when, as Christians, we fail to trust the Lord.

Imagine a heavily loaded hitchhiker finally offered a ride. Now suppose that rider, gratefully climbing into the vehicle, refused to take off his pack, saying, “It’s so generous of you to give me a lift. I wouldn’t think of asking you to carry my belongings as well.” We would all consider that to be ridiculously foolish. Yet how many of us take Jesus as our Lord and Savior while remaining filled with anxiety about all matters of life? Don’t miss the peace that comes from a daily practice of handing your concerns over to the Lord.[1]

Jesus asked us to become as little children. What pain a father would feel if his young child began to worry over daily needs like food and shelter! Surely our heavenly Father is saddened at seeing his children worry about their lives as well. Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear” (Matthew 6:25). Childlike trust in God is the key to attaining perfect peace.

Pray this prayer to the One who knows and understands us better than we do ourselves. “Lord, I abandon myself to you. Take possession of my life and work in me all that is your will.” Once you’ve prayed that prayer, refuse to worry. Hand over your health, your reputation, your ministries, your possessions, your children, your thought life and everything else that concerns you. Do not cease to work, but cease to worry. No matter how difficult our circumstances, we need only to go to the Lord in prayer and pour out our concerns. If we begin to worry again, we must go to him again in prayer, doing this over and over until at last we have peace.

The simple secret that unlocks great treasure is summed up in these words, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God, and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). 

Do not be anxious. In other words, don’t worry, and you can be filled with the peace of God. What could be a happier state than that?

[1] “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.”  Isaiah 26:3

Because We Need to Trust

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell

I looked up at Daddy with wide-eyed, ten-year-old amazement, “I can’t believe you burned down ‘Brookside.’”

The fire had left its devastation — everything around us was black and charred. There were no tall grasses left, no bushes, no wildflowers. ‘Brookside’ was our family’s small farm just outside town, a place where we fished, hunted, played, rode horses, and spent campouts at the cabin dubbed by my parents as “The Last Resort.”

“Oh, Cindygirl, I didn’t burn down ‘Brookside’,” Daddy replied with a grin. “This is what is called ‘controlled burning’ – setting carefully guarded fires to clean out the underbrush and make way for new spring growth. Remember, I’m a forester. This is what we do every year.”

I wanted to trust Daddy, to believe that what he said was indeed the truth.

But the blackened ground didn’t look like it would ever see green again. It seemed more reasonable to trust what my eyes saw instead of what my ears heard. Tentatively I sought to grasp what he had said. “So, it only looks like you destroyed ‘Brookside,’ but what you were really doing is preparing it for growing?”

“Exactly, “Daddy explained. “Those weeds and tall grasses would have choked back the new plants and flowers coming this spring, so we clear that away, and before you know it, this whole area will once again be covered in beautiful green.”

For another moment I experienced an internal battle between what the person I trusted was saying and what I was actually seeing.

I knew that my daddy loved this farm – that he enjoyed walking through the trails and boating on the two ponds and driving the jeep from the brooks that bordered each side of the vast acreage. I also knew that he always replenished the lands that provided wood for his pulpwood business.

Most of all, I knew that he was a person I could believe with all my heart. I chose to trust him because I knew him so well.

And my trust was rewarded with visible evidence — by the very next weekend there were tiny shoots of green peeking up all over the farm!

The psalmist encourages us to “Trust in God at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge” (Psalm 62:8).

When we are young children, our parents should embody the same kind of safety, refuge and trustworthiness as our heavenly Father. In my life, I was privileged to make an easy transition from trusting a trustworthy father to trusting my heavenly Father. But sadly, we know that is not always the case.

How can we live out the word ‘trust’ when others have betrayed our trust so many times that we have become wary?

 In this verse, the word trust is translated from the Hebrew word chacah, a verb which means to seek refuge or put trust in God. Its noun form, machacah, is actually interchangeable with our English word ‘refuge.’ So when we speak of trust, we are also speaking of a safe place to dwell – actually living in a refuge of trust.

As my childhood story suggests, one of the stumbling blocks in trusting is that trust involves saying no to our natural tendencies and yes to what sometimes appears impossible. That’s where faith comes in.

My father was a worthy object of my trust and so I chose to believe what he said instead of what I mistakenly deduced from my surroundings. I could wholeheartedly put my trust in him because I knew his heart.

What do you see when you look at your life today? Is there devastation? Have dreams been shattered? Are resources depleted? It’s pretty easy to trust that what you see must be the final reality.

But you might be wrong.

The burnt-out brush of your life right now might very well be a carefully ‘controlled burning’ orchestrated by your heavenly Father to provide ideal conditions for new growth. Maybe something in your life has to go so that God can replace it with something even better.

Will you trust Him to do that in His way and His time?

Originally posted at and shared with permission.

*Lucinda Secrest McDowell, M.T.S., entered heaven on March 25, 2023. She was passionate about embracing life through deep soul care, courageously touching a needy world. A storyteller who engaged both heart and mind, she delighted in “Helping you Choose a Life of Serenity & Strength.”  A graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Furman University, McDowell is the author of 13 books and contributing author to 30+ books. Her books include the award-winning Dwelling Places (2017 Christian Retailing BEST Award for Devotional), Ordinary Graces (2018 SELAH finalist), Live These Words,  Refresh! and Role of a Lifetime.  A member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA), Lucinda received Mt. Hermon’s “Writer of the Year” award and guest bloged monthly for The Write Conversation and Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference Blog. Whether co-directing  “reNEW ~ retreat for New England Writing,”  pouring into young mamas, or leading a restorative day of prayer, she was energized by investing in people of all ages. Lucinda’s favorites included 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. Known for her ability to convey deep truth in practical and winsome ways, she wrote from “Sunnyside” cottage in New England and blogged weekly at Lucinda will be missed. Her writings will continue to inspire. Please join me in praying for comfort for her family.

Hannah’s Secret, Chapter Two

Our job is to trust, and God’s part is to work.

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If we are to be delivered from the grip of sin, if it really is God’s plan to give us “everything good for doing his will” and to “work in us what is pleasing to him,[1] then we need to be transformed, and we certainly can’t transform ourselves.

Most of us have tried to make ourselves holy and have failed miserably. But God will do it if we put ourselves into his hands and trust him without reserve. When we trust, the Lord works, and a great deal is done, not by us, but by him. He disciplines and trains us by inward exercises and outward circumstances. He makes everything in our lives submit to his purpose of making us, day by day, into the image of Christ.

Sanctification, being made holy and set apart for God, is a matter of surrender and trust on our part, and a process of development on God’s part.[2] We must each become as a lump of clay in the hands of the Divine Potter, consciously surrendering to him and continually trusting him. Expect him to change you, making you into a vessel that honors him and is prepared for his purposes. 

His way of accomplishing what we have entrusted to him may be vastly different from the way we have in mind, but he knows best. We must trust him to use us and our circumstances. Otherwise, we will be as clay taken out of the hands of the Potter, wondering, even as we refuse his workings, why we are not complete and perfect vessels.

His pace may not be as swift as we would choose. Maturity is never reached in a moment but is the result of God’s Holy Spirit working within us. A lump of clay, from the moment it comes under the transforming hand of the potter, is just what the potter wants it to be at any particular time during each hour of the process. Even in a state of incompletion, it pleases him; but it is very far from being matured into the vessel the potter intends to make it at last. We have to be patient.

Ask the Lord to work in you in whatever way he chooses. Then, by an exercise of faith, continue to surrender to him, following immediately any direction you know is from him. When we do that, we are pleasing God simply by our trust and submission. God has given us the gift of free will. Therefore, his work in us depends upon our choosing to submit to him. Still, we must understand clearly that it is God’s working within us, not our own work from our own determination, that is the cause of all I will cover in this book.

[1] Hebrews 13:21

[2]May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and will do it.”  I Thessalonians 5:23-24