When a new book is released, people have all sorts of questions for the author — not the least of which is “How can I write a book too?” That may have to wait for another blog..
But for now, I’m going to try and answer some of the questions folks have been throwing at me lately… Feel free to pose any of your own questions in the comments.
Why did you write Soul Strong?
The simple answer is that I wrote Soul Strong as a response to a five-word question by a younger woman – “How do you do it?” I meet so very many people as I speak around the country and have had many conversations which served as a catalyst to put into writing some of my hard life lessons.
Yes, I focus on 7 keys, but the truth is that we journey through life not merely to check off achievements. The formula of A + B = C doesn’t always work. While there’s no exhaustive to-do list, I do believe that choosing what matters most will lead us into both living authentically and loving extravagantly.
Who is your audience for this book?
I wrote Soul Strong for anyone who has ever wondered
- How do I know if my life is making a difference?
- How do I persevere through discouragement or disaster?
- How do I move forward spiritually and with purpose?
I believe the journey of faith is indeed “a long obedience in the same direction.” And I’ve discovered that this deep commitment and even deeper empowerment make me soul strong. Yes, even while making mistakes and standing daily in need of God’s grace and mercy.
What are your hopes for this message?
I pray that God will orchestrate getting these words into the hands of those who will work through each chapter with a teachable heart — both to learn more of God, but also to discover their true self and unique calling. I pray that when readers close Soul Strong they are transformed. More purpose, more power, more of embracing God’s presence, and filled with more perseverance to live loved.
Are there any unique elements in Soul Strong?
I love that Soul Strong is an interactive tool for those who are willing to do the hard work of getting to know themselves better, and digging deep into God’s call and purpose for their lives. Each of the seven chapters fleshes out a key to vibrant living. As a seminary graduate, I love to delve into the intricacies of biblical sources for contemporary life. I use personal stories, challenging quotes, and the best of spiritual disciplines and practice to guide my reader in exploring what it means for them to live soul strong. Parts of the book look like a Bible study, while other sections resemble a prayer book or a personal journal. I like this variety and hope the reader will as well.
Can you explain your 7 keys?
- I begin with “Live loved.” Because people need to fully grasp how much God loves them — not because of anything they have or have not done, but because they are His idea, His creation. When we are already loved, already accepted, already chosen and equipped, we are free to live loved. From that starting place we then begin to flesh out the other six keys.
- “Be authentic” speaks to our deep desire to be fully known and used to change the world. As we are. But also, to be encouraged to know ourselves and develop our passions and gifts.
- “Dwell deep” offers the practical steps anyone can take for much-needed soul care — spiritual practices that strengthen us within and without. I loved seeking to make such things approachable and attainable.
- “Pray always” sounds impossible, but not if we see prayer as a way of life, not just a certain task. I help guide the reader through many different aspects of communication with God, including some of the best prayers over time and history.
- “Overcome pain” is perhaps the hardest and most encouraging chapter of all, as we witness those who have suffered and survived, those who were transformed from their trials. We find hope as we make choices to allow our pain to enlarge our lives.
- “Extend kindness” asks the hard questions of how we are responding and reacting to the needy world that surrounds us. As we explore themes of compassion, civility, and conversation, we realize kindness can be expressed in many life-giving ways.
- “Share stories” is where it all comes together as I vulnerably share some of my hardest lessons and call each of us to spend the rest of our lives as messengers of light and faith, that others might be drawn to God.
These descriptions are very simplistic of course, but give the basic flow of how the book works. In my prologue I feature the question “How do you do it?” and conclude in my epilogue with “Why do you do it?”
What was it like sharing God’s fingerprints on your own life story?
Although I knew what I wanted to say, it was a challenge to decide which stories, scripture, quotes, and prayers to include. For a book on life, there is a temptation to write everything I know. Everything I’ve ever done and every lesson learned. But you will notice this is not a long book — I didn’t want my readers to get bogged down, but merely taste the “Lucinda version” of God’s story so they could recognize His movement in their own lives. So, it was a challenge to leave out some pretty important stuff, but it was also scary to include some of my most vulnerable moments. In the end, I did so with the hope that God’s redemption of all things will shine as a beacon of light.
How did writing Soul Strong affect your own life?
HonestIy, writing this book reminded me of how far I have to grow in order to truly live vibrantly and soul strong. But I’m on my way, inviting the reader to join me in the process. And while writing, I became aware that my deepest desire in this season is to be a Spiritual Mama. I am committed to encouraging and discipling younger women and men who are traveling through life with questions and searching hearts. I want to fan the flames of creativity and courage in new voices for the Kingdom. It was easy to realize that my own word for 2020 is Strong – “March on, my soul; be strong!” (Judges 5.21) I come from a long line of strong Southern women — steel magnolias if you will. But I still have to choose to live the message of this book each day. I pray to become even stronger — spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically. But I also believe that even when my mind and body weaken, God can keep me soul strong to the end. Perhaps that’s why my final words in the last chapter are “Here am I, Lord, send me.”
What’s ahead for you?
I shall continue to be God’s messenger of encouragement, grace, and light. I plan to walk through every door God sends my way, empowered by Him to do hard things. Honestly, I don’t know what that will look like in the days ahead, but I sure hope it means encountering all kinds of people in all kinds of places. I hope readers will visit me at my online home www.LucindaSecrestMcDowell.com
I’m claiming my life verse which God gave me back when I was a 17-year-old freshman at Furman University;
“If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” Isaiah 58.10-11 NIV
under the mercy, Lucinda
©2020 Lucinda Secrest McDowell
Check out the companion devotional book “Life-Giving Choices – 60 Days to What Matters Most” by Lucinda Secrest McDowell Order Today!