Would you like to be Soul Strong?
Soul Strong - 7 Keys to a Vibrant Life
- How do I know my life makes a difference?
- How am I supposed to balance life when it seems I can’t catch a break?
- How do I move forward spiritually and with purpose?
The answer to these questions and more is in learning how to live Soul Strong. The journey of faith is truly “a long obedience in the same direction.” It’s a deep commitment and an even deeper empowerment. It’s making mistakes while standing daily in need of God’s grace and mercy. Seven key decisions can give you soul strength for the story God calls you to live.
- Live Loved
- Be Authentic
- Dwell Deep
- Pray Always
- Overcome Pain
- Extend Kindness
- Share Stories
God wants to give you strength of soul for the story He has called you to live. Let these practical guidelines and prompts help you live authentically and love extravagantly.
Interview with Lucinda Secrest McDowell on “Soul Strong”
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.
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.
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.
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?
In the process of 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
Younger Women Respond to “Soul Strong ~ 7 Keys to a Vibrant Life”
With the heart of a gentle encourager, Lucinda Secrest McDowell provides practical wisdom for how to live a vibrant life, rooted and grounded in God's extravagant love and grace. Soul Strong is a generous offering from an honest, trustworthy mentor. I'm grateful for this beautiful gift.
Sharon Garlough Brown, Author of the Sensible Shoes Series and Shades of Light
The first time I met Lucinda Secrest McDowell she looked me straight in the eyes as asked me how she could pray for me, revealing her heart. In Soul Strong, we are all the beneficiaries of practical guidance that will help any women who wants to live the full, vibrant life Jesus promises us.
Teri Lynne Underwood, author of Praying for Girls: Asking God for the Things They Need Most
Each day we are faced with choices that determine our posture and stamina as we run the race Jesus has laid out for his own. In Soul Strong, Lucinda Secrest McDowell tracks right alongside and lovingly points us to the Word of God. Dig in, do the work and watch your soul strength rise.
Lee Nienhuis, Author Brave Mom, Brave Kids, Host of Moms in Prayer Podcast
Upon first meeting Lucinda Secrest McDowell I quickly sensed a vibrancy, prompting me to lean in closely to her words in Soul Strong. As a woman in my late thirties, I loved the interactive format for exploring simple but life-changing keys for the reader to live a vibrant faith-filled life. If you have a longing for your soul to feel strong on all the days, join my friend Lucinda on this compelling journey.
Jennifer Hand, Speaker, Trauma Counselor and Author of 31 Days to Coming Alive
At once a Bible study and a study of one’s self, Lucinda Secrest McDowell ‘s new book will not only fill you with hope, but will inspire you to dig in deep, grow in your faith, and abide sweetly in Jesus. Soul Strong is intentional, biblical, encouraging, and infused with hope. I cannot recommend this book enough!
Heidi Chiavaroli, Carol award-winning Author of Freedom’s Ring and The Tea Chest
As a wife, mom, homeschooler, and teacher, my soul has felt weary in the well-doing. Then Lucinda’s Soul Strong came my way—a book I desperately needed, Lucinda Secrest McDowell offers prayer-filled, story-rich writing that is foundational and practical; Her words guided my way towards a stronger, more vibrant inner life with Christ.
Julie Kieras, Family and Parenting Blogger at HappyStrongHome.com
Lucinda Secrest McDowell offers a beautiful invitation in Soul Strong to explore the real you according to God’s design. She strings stories together with the Word to illustrate a beautiful vision of an authentically vibrant life shaped by deep abiding in God's love and kindness, grace and mercy, gratitude and hope.
Elisa Pulliam, Coach, Speaker, and Author of Meet the New You and Unblinded Faith
We can spend countless hours working on externals. While there's nothing wrong with these things, there is something infinitely more important - the soul. Lucinda Secrest McDowell serves as a capable and caring guide into the interior. The journey towards knowing God and yourself better is well worth it and Soul Strong will help you grow.
Arlene Pellicane, Speaker and Author of Calm, Cool, and Connected: 5 Digital Habits for a More Balanced Life
With a wealth of wisdom and encouragement to go deep with God through His Word, Lucinda Secrest McDowell invites us to explore who we are and how God wants us to live. This is not a book to flip through, but one to work through slowly, taking the time to apply the tried and tested practices to your own life. This is what I will be doing.
Rachel Britton, Speaker, Author, Content Director Radiant.NYC, Co-Director reNEW
Soul Strong - 7 Keys to a Vibrant Life is water for a thirsty soul! Lucinda Secrest McDowell masterfully weaves both personal story and practical advice together, giving valuable tools that will both strengthen and encourage each reader in their own life journey. I cannot wait to share copies with the young women I mentor.
Tammy Gerhard, Counselor, Mentor, Women’s Ministry Leader
Lucinda Secrest McDowell provides an excellent resource for women's ministries, Bible studies, small groups, and individuals. Soul Strong will empower and enrich your walk with Jesus--and your desire to live the life that is more than we could ask or imagine.
Lindsey P. Brackett, award-winning Author of Still Waters
Lucinda Secrest McDowell’s transparent writing is rooted with scripture and complemented with practical tips and powerful reflection questions. I loved Soul Strong’s interweaving of story, scripture, practical tips and places for journaling. I truly felt like I was walking on a path of soul-discovery with a trusted friend who is just a little farther down the road, cheering me on.
Amy Breitmann, Author of A God of All Seasons