It was so sudden. In late January she was vibrant—co-leading a retreat for fellow authors and
speakers—but a month later, the diagnosis was Stage 4 cancer. I stood next to my friend’s bedside in Wethersfield, CT, thanking her for the major investment she made in my life and the lives of many other Christian communicators.
Through tears, I prayed over her, knowing my voice represented many others who had been
greatly impacted by a life well-lived. One day later, Lucinda (Cindy) Secrest McDowell had
passed from the ravages of a disease-ridden body into the loving arms of the One she loved and served. I can hear the echo of her welcome into heaven, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
Cindy was one of our much-loved faculty members at the Speak Up Conference and she had
already submitted the title for her 2023 breakout session: “When God Takes You on a Different Path” (how to follow God’s plan when it’s not what you hoped).
She wrote: “What happens when my vision for my writing or speaking doesn’t line up with my current reality? Though tempted to despair, I have discovered that such times can eventually
bring me to a deeper place of joy and significance. Join us for some lessons on pivoting,
provision, and purpose.”
Did she have a premonition that her life would be shorter than expected? I found myself searching for wisdom in her book, Life-Giving Choices.
Cindy wrote: “One choice each day. That’s all it takes to change your life.” She reminded her readers, “Don’t settle for the good when you can choose the best.”
As she began her lifelong quest to find what brings life, joy, and meaning, she landed on five key choices that can make a major difference in the way we speak, write, and lead:
- Be empowered to simplify and focus on the essentials.
For much of my life I’ve concentrated on doing too many things at once—and on doing
them too perfectly.
- Identify challenges you face in juggling responsibilities.
As God multiplied my opportunities for writing and speaking, I was trying to please too
many people. I needed to schedule carefully when faced with writing deadlines and the
necessity of having messages prepared for upcoming conferences.
- Find freedom to release the pressure of striving to do it all.
Cindy’s mentor was Elisabeth Elliot and she worked in her home when she was a student at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. Elisabeth wrote: “If we really have too much to do, there are some items on the agenda which God did not put there. Let us submit the list to Him and ask Him to indicate which items we must delete.”
- Learn scriptural truths reinforcing your identity as God’s beloved. Try memorizing
“…I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have drawn you with unfailing
kindness…” Jeremiah 31:3
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called
children of God! 1 John 3:1
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners,
Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
- Begin daily steps to pursue specific action.
What is the “one thing” God wants you to begin? List the daily steps it will take to
complete the project in a timely manner.
How can we honor Cindy?
Lucinda Secrest McDowell invested her life in equipping Christian writers and speakers. It
would bring her great joy to know that memorial gifts in her memory will be used toward
scholarships for emerging writers and speakers, enabling them to attend this year’s conference.
Please click here to make your tax-deductible gift in honor of Cindy. In the comment section,
please write: Lucinda Secrest McDowell Memorial Fund.
Question: What is your favorite memory of Cindy McDowell? I look forward to reading your
About Carol Kent
Carol Kent is a bestselling author and an international speaker for conferences, outreach events, and retreats. She’s the executive director of the Speak Up Conference, an event committed to helping people develop their speaking and writing skills. She and her husband, Gene, have founded the nonprofit organization, Speak Up for Hope, which benefits inmates and their families. Carol holds a master’s degree in communication arts and a bachelor’s degree in speech education. Carol has trained Christian speakers for over twenty-five years, and she has been a featured speaker at Women of Faith, Extraordinary Women, and Women of Joy arena events. She is the author of over twenty-five books, including the bestselling When I Lay My Isaac Down, Tame Your Fears, and Becoming a Woman of Influence. Her two newest titles are a 365 page-per-day devotional titled, He Holds My Hand, and Staying Power. Connect with Carol at www.carolkent.org.