The Story Behind ‘Ordinary Graces’

November 14th, 2017

Are you ready to receive gifts of ordinary grace and abundant life from God and His Word? Join Lucinda Secrest McDowell in focusing on one word a day through devotional readings and short benedictions in her new book, Ordinary Graces. God has given us many gifts, such as his grace—the gift we don’t deserve and can never earn. Promises from the One who declares we are already loved, already accepted, already created in his image. The question becomes, will we truly receive that gift? Will the reality of it actually change the way we think and notice and reach out?

Plus, celebrate the release of Lucinda’s new book and grace your holiday season with a $75 Etsy gift card giveaway! Click here to learn more and enter.


Tells us a bit about your book—what inspired you to write it?

Ordinary Graces offers 120 daily devotions that are simultaneously short yet deep. Each of the four sections – Grace, Strength, Gratitude and Life – reveal a variety of biblical words through story, study and practical help that prompt the reader to find courage, deepen faith, reach out to others and celebrate with gratitude. Readers will especially enjoy the flexibility of choosing any word in any season, covered on two pages. “Ordinary Graces” is written for women and men of all ages who are eager to know God better and to understand all He gives for navigating life today. Busy people who can mine the depths of just one word a day filled with grace and wisdom. Those who enjoy nuggets of truth from a variety of sources, as I include many quotes from writers through the ages. It’s also for that person who wants to touch base with God each day, but is not sure where to begin.

What is the main message of your book?

“From His fullness we have all received grace upon grace.” John 1.16

Last year’s devotional with Abingdon Press was Dwelling Places where I featured words that draw us closer into the presence of God – words that evoke peace and serenity, refuge and hope. In Ordinary Graces I introduce words that convey the many gifts God bestows on us – grace gifts that will help strengthen our souls and provide courage to live adventurously. Gifts just waiting to be received, unwrapped and incorporated into our hearts, souls and compassionate actions. What wonderful words are included here – beloved, treasure, worthy, rescue, endurance, kindness, story, promises, real, footsteps, overflow, wise and encourage.

What was the hardest part about writing nonfiction?

It’s hard to write both short and deep. I personally enjoy a variety of devotions – spiritual readings that draw us into the presence of God, helping us grow in our faith. When I started writing such books, I realized that I wanted to write what I personally wanted to read. In other words, I wanted my devotions to be a balanced combination of inspiration and teaching, always with practical application! And yet, the nature of a daily reading is that it is short, not exhaustive. So that was then the challenge of writing short, yet deep. Not easy! In the process of telling stories, I wanted to offer substance that enlarged the reader or made them want to dig in more to God’s Word. And then do something about it. These devotions are best when they are a mere catalyst to further study. Also, I include many other fascinating sources in Ordinary Graces – not just my own limited wisdom.

What is one thing you learned while writing Ordinary Graces?

I continue to learn more and more about Grace! I love all 120 words, but I must admit that the word grace has totally changed my life! So on the very first day of Ordinary Graces, I explain how I went from a needy, insecure, self-centered person trying to earn God’s love to the one whose primary identity is as beloved, limping and faltering along my journey – grateful for every opportunity to share that God’s grace and mercy are gifts, not rewards. Thus, words in this book like belong, striving, comparing, merciful, enslaved, peer pleasing, least, broken, weakness, groaning, weary, story, real, unfailing love, approved, baggage, and difficult times (sorry, that’s a lot of them) are especially dear to me, because I have learned them the hard way. Truth be told, each word in this book came with a price. I had to first live it before I could share it with you. I’m still on the path – I certainly won’t have mastered them completely until the other side of glory. But I’m not where I was before. And my deepest prayer for my readers is that when they finish this book, they can say the same thing.

Do you have any advice for those interested in writing nonfiction?

Go to a Writers Retreat or Conference. Join me in New England in the Fall! reNEW – retreat for New England Writing  | October 5-7, 2018. I’m the director and would love to see you there

What are you working on next?

I’m writing a discipling journal for younger women. All about life’s most important choices.

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Lucinda McDowell

{More About Lucinda McDowell}

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 13 books, including “Ordinary Graces,” “Dwelling Places,” “Live These Words,” “Refresh!,” “Quilts from Heaven” and “Role of a Lifetime.” Whether co-directing the “reNEW – retreat for New England Writing,” mentoring young moms, or leading a restorative day of prayer, she is energized by investing in people of all ages.

Find out more about Lucinda at