Sometimes Others Say It Best…

There will be Christmas this year.

Can’t you sense it? Despite the doom and gloom of outward circumstances, there is also something in the air, the music, the stars in the dark sky, the delicious smells, the flickering firelight, the silence even. Friend, Christmas will come alright. Because Christ came in that most improbable first Christmas story, and because He is still so close, a breath away, dwelling deep within.

Today my heart echoes “Thanks be to God, for His indescribable gift!” 2 Corinthians 9.15

Early this morning as I sat wrapped in cozy blankets by the fireside for coffee and morning prayer on an almost-Christmas day, I was studying Paul’s letters to Timothy. As often happens with God’s Word, 4 phrases captured exactly what I want to say to you this Christmas:

  • “I thank God who has given me strength.” 1 Timothy 1.12
  • “I remember you constantly in my prayers.” 2 Timothy 1.3
  • “I long to see you that I may be filled with joy.” 2 Timothy 1.4
  • [My Christmas gifts to you] “Grace, mercy, and peace from God, the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” 2 Timothy 1.2

That’s pretty  much my own message today:

  1. I’m grateful God gave me strength all year and won’t stop now. 
  2. I keep praying.
  3. I wish I could actually be with you.
  4. But since I can’t, I send you these 3 amazing gifts of God’s grace, mercy and peace.

And now, in the spirit of borrowing words, may I offer this prayer to you:

My Friend Barbara Mahany Shares Her Christmas Morning Prayer

As is my way of keeping Christmas, I will bow my head at the dawn, and I will whisper my litany of prayerfulness. It’s the essence of Christmas to me: to weave the strands of petition into a whole and mighty salutation to God…

I pray and pray for peace… I pray for the shattered masses, awaiting the words – any words – that tell them the world is listening, has heard their cries, awaiting the word that hope is coming to save them.

I pray for children, that in their hours of darkness, the light comes. I pray that someday they understand that each and every day we try and try again to teach each other: this is how you love.

I pray for all of us who, more often than not of late, feel hollowed. Feel jarred and broken by the hatred spewing all around. I pray for our tender hearts and fragile spirits. I pray that we don’t topple. And if we do, I pray for someone strong to come along, to reach out a hand to whisper hope, and pull us to our feet.

I pray for those who haven’t a clue how deeply they teach me each and every day – be it a story on the news, or one passing by in the social media whirl.

I pray for the ones we’ve lost this year, the ones whose words rumble through my head, through my heart, each and every day. I pray for the God who catches the words of this prayer, who catches us all.

More mightily than any prayer I pray of late, I beg Holy God to not abandon us now. To not leave us to our sins and our shattered promises. I promise to love a little bit harder, to live more true to the blessing I was made to be.

I promise to love, God, and I beg You to show us – show me, show every single lost and hungry one of us – the way. The holy, certain wayAmen.(adapted from “The Stillness of Winter” by Barbara Mahany, Abingdon 2020)

And finally, for your treat, a short Nativity from some children (and a mama) who clearly understand the true meaning of Christmas.

“The Hopes and Fears of All the Years are Met in Thee Tonight!” (Phillips Brooks, “O Little Town of Bethlehem”)

under the mercy, Lucinda

Merry Christmas from our McDowell Clan!

January 1, 2020 – the last time we were all together…
Will you join me in this prayer?

“Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity & Strength”

©2020 Lucinda Secrest McDowell

Lucinda Secrest McDowell is a storyteller and seasoned mentor who engages both heart and mind while “Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity & Strength.” She has authored 15 books including “Soul Strong – 7 Keys to a Vibrant Life” and “Life-Giving Choices – 60 Days to What Matters Most.” She writes from “Sunnyside” cottage in New England and shares encouraging words at

Have you been listening to and watching my
“Daily Advent Words” each morning on
both Facebook and Instagram?
There are still 8 more words to come!
My gift to you this year is a whole month of “Daily Advent Words” which I  share each morning December 1-31 on Instagram and Facebook
 (they are up and archived there.)
I hope you will watch/listen in the unfolding Light as we all learn to Shine!
to view “Daily Advent Words.”
A Look Ahead to January.
Want to start the year strong —
individually or with a group?
I am offering an 8-week study on my interactive life journal “Soul Strong – 7 Keys to a Vibrant Life” available January 3rd for individuals or groups. You can watch the 8 video teaching lessons any time, plus full outline downloads of each session and discussion questions are provided. You will need a copy of the book “Soul Strong,” but the video teaching is fresh material which complements the book. The study is FREE, but a small Love Offering is always appreciated.  Simply email me
 with “Soul Strong Study” as the subject line and I will send you the LINK on January 3rd.


  1. bam on December 23, 2020 at 2:40 pm

    Humbly, quietly, thank you. And emphatically, bless you.❤️ Xox

  2. Lucinda Secrest McDowell on December 23, 2020 at 4:04 pm

    Barbara Mahany! Thank YOU for this perfect Christmas Prayer — and for your incredible book “The Stillness of Winter” which is helping me get through Winter – December, January, and February. Love and Hugs to you in the Windy City.

  3. Maggie Rowe on December 23, 2020 at 7:44 pm

    I am so glad you gifted me with Barbara’s beautiful book. My treat is to sit quietly by the tree absorbing the stillness and serenity of her words.

    And this VIDEO – oh my. Those precious, perfect children bring tears to my eyes!

    Your post is a gift. Thank you!

    • Lucinda Secrest McDowell on December 24, 2020 at 10:45 pm

      Thank you for your many gifts to me, not the least of which was our long zoom yesterday. Merry Merry.

  4. Lisa Larsen Hill on December 23, 2020 at 9:07 pm

    Thank you Lucinda, beautiful thoughts and worthy of tears from the heart.

    • Lucinda Secrest McDowell on December 24, 2020 at 10:46 pm

      And thanks for your wonderful note and Christmas letter. I am so thrilled God allowed our lives to intersect. Merry. Merry.

  5. Elizabeth Brandes on December 24, 2020 at 2:33 pm

    Cindy, you are such a beautiful soul —strong and sensitive and insightful. Wishing you a peaceful holiday. Hope to see you in 2021.

  6. Lucinda Secrest McDowell on December 24, 2020 at 10:46 pm

    Oh Beth — lifetime dear friend — THIS means the world to me. Yes, we must connect in 2021. Merry Merry.

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