Drown out the busyness and noise of everyday life and find a deeper faith with something as simple as a single word in Lucinda Secrest McDowell’s new book, Dwelling Places: Words to Live in Every Season. Through short and inspiring readings, McDowell unpacks a single word—such as mercy, beauty, gratitude, or grace—to reveal a biblical blessing or challenge relevant to where you are. Full of stories and illustrations to empower you to live the what you have just read, each devotional ends with a short prayer, written as if God were speaking directly to you.

I am not usually a fan of devotional books  because they just barely scratch the surface on topics and usually don’t go far enough into them, however, there were a few things I liked about this devotional that sets it out from others of its kind. This devotional is broken up into spiritual seasons that parallel yearly seasons — Dwell (Fall), Shine (Advent), Renew (Lent), Grow (Summer).  I do like how it is divided into these seasons and attach a “spiritual season” to them. I want to primarily focus my review on the “Summer” season of this devotional book which is titled “Grow”. I feel McDowell did a good job at focusing on devotional topics in this season that are geared toward this theme. McDowell has topics such as “flourish”, “transformed” & “prunes” among others as a one-word description of each daily devotional. Each devotional begins with a scripture focus and then expands on the topic, even integrating in relevant Bible passages that support the main point for each day.

Like I said most devotionals just scratch the surface on topics, but McDowell does well to bring out new insights, further biblical truths, theological truths, relevant stories. Here is an example from Day 26 of Summer (page 258)

Shade is not just for comfort; it’s also for protection. In fact, in our verse today the Old Testament Hebrew word connoting protection here is tsel,  which is translated “shade” or “shadow.” They are interchangeable as found in Psalm 91:1, “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High/will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

I also like that McDowell is fairly consistent with the Bible translation that she uses throughout the devotionals. Some authors, I feel, jump around between various translations to fit the context of the point they are trying to make.

If you are looking for a devotional that you can work into your daily spiritual practices this could be a beneficial one for you and one that I would recommend.


Lucinda Secrest McDowell is the author of 11 books, including Live These Words, Amazed by Grace, and Quilts from Heaven. She has contributed to an additional 25 books and has been published in more than 50 magazines. A graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Furman University, she speaks internationally through her ministry Encouraging Words. An award-winning writer who has earned accolades from prominent writers’ conferences and retreats, McDowell has also worked in radio broadcasting, in retreat planning, and on church pastoral staffs. She writes from “Sunnyside” cottage in Connecticut.

Note: I received a copy of the book free from the publisher in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.