I’ve considered author and encourager Michele Howe a friend for several years. Although we’ve never had the chance to meet in person, Michele has been a contributor here for years. I’ve read her books, watched her family grow, and admired her strength and courage in the midst of some daunting health challenges. In all of this, she has remained consistently upbeat and positive, channeling problems into positivity.
Michele’s newly released book Faith, Friends, and Other Flotation Devices: A Woman’s Guide to Abundant Living resonates with me. In this newest work, she continues to tap into her own inner strength and that of other women in a variety of circumstances. An overview of the book points to its uplifting tone:
The table has been set with care. A pitcher of ice tea sparkles in the sunlight. Home made scones are still warm, and fresh fruit has been artfully arranged on a crystal platter. A copy of The Message lies open on a bench next to a vase filled with wildflowers and weeds. And Michele Howe, your gracious hostess, is here, ready to share memories, dreams, fears, daily challenges – woman to woman, your friend and confidant. You might not have had a day off from work, volunteer obligations, family life for weeks, perhaps months, but she has made space for you and done everything to make you comfortable. In each chapter in Faith, Friends, and Other Flotation Devices: A Woman’s Guide to Abundant Living Michele focuses on a single theme – forgiveness, providence, regret, contentment, and more; introduces you to a woman whose daily experience sheds new light on active, faithful living; and gives you a concise set of guidelines to examine and live your faith.
Enjoy the following interview with Michele Howe and please consider Faith, Friends, and Other Flotation Devices: A Woman’s Guide to Abundant Living as a gift for yourself or a friend.
Q: Michele, congratulations on your latest book! We’re so happy to have you as a part of our CatholicMom.com family and you’ve been such a loyal contributor for several years. Please give us an update on your family.
It has been my pleasure to contribute through the years to your wonderful site! My husband and I have been married almost 30 years and come this December we will celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. Our four young adult children continue to enrich and bless our lives immensely. We have two grandchildren thus far…and finally “get it” when people say there’s nothing so wonderful as grandchildren. They are the icing on the family cake!!!
Q: Kudos again on the release of Faith, Friends, and Other Flotation Devices: A Woman’s Guide to Abundant Living. I have to say that you had me at the title! What will readers discover in this book?
Readers will this three strand theme running through the book in every story, every life lesson, every take away action point. Faith. Friends. Flotation Devices. These three themes are what keep a gal going through all the different seasons of life and I’ve woven them into one cohesive book where women will be encouraged, reminded, and at times, challenged to step out in faith to meet the needs of their friends (and others) to make a beautiful difference in our world today.
Q: One of the things you’ve always done so beautifully in your work is to support and uplift women in their challenges. Why is this so important to you?
I suppose I am so passionate about supporting other women because I’ve relied on my female friends during my own challenging seasons of life. I recall going through a very dark period of time immediately following my first (of six) shoulder surgeries when my best friend really came alongside me and encouraged me day by day when I was emotionally bereft. I’ll never forget her kindness to me and how it helped me move through that stressful time. We all need such friends during life’s most difficult moments.
Q: How does this book build upon your previous projects?
All of my books tell the stories of women I know or of women I’ve interviewed through the years, this book is no exception. So readers will see how other women have dealt with situations similar to their own and how their faith and their friends play a significant role in equipping them to carry out their responsiblities. I always like to make life real…and to offer helpful suggestions for getting through tough times because when we’re in the midst of struggles…we often don’t have the mental energy to think through and create a practical plan for action.
Q: What did you learn about yourself in the writing of this book? Was there a particular chapter or section that was uniquely challenging for you to write?
What I learned most about myself was that I no matter how old I am, I continue to need my female friends. I find that I don’t often see my closest friends in the flesh very often…instead, we text, we email, we call….but nothing replaces an in person conversation with someone you care about. I’m trying harder to make time to see my friends in person…and the chapter on Regret spoke most powerfully to me. I don’t want to get to the end of my days and feel boatloads of regret because I wouldn’t take on God’s assignment for me. Rarely are we completely comfortable with new situations, so instead of relying on my comfort level, I want to step out in faith confident that God will give me everything I need to accomplish what He has given me to do.
Q: In writing for women and in hearing their stories and challenges, how do you keep yourself from becoming discouraged?
I find myself pointing women farther along in their stories because older and wiser women have done so for me. When you look further down the road, you notice there’s a lot of good that happens along with way within a person’s heart and mind. I help women look down their path and envision what God may do in them and for them!
Q: What words of wisdom would you share with younger women that you wish you’d known years ago?
Accept today’s challenges gracefully and stop mentally wishing away today’s hardships because you believe the next season will be easier. Every season of life has its own challenges. Enjoy today, live in gratitude for the beautiful moments in this 24 hours, and remember that God gives us enough strength and grace for today alone.
Q: What do you hope that readers will gain from their time spent with your book?
I hope that readers will re-ignite their faith walk if they need to do so and I hope they’ll begin to re-invest in their friendships with other women if they’ve allowed them to slide. I want women to realize how much they have to offer other women…and rather than compete with them, learn how to complement them with their own gifts and talents…and come alongside those in need of a helping hand or a word of encouragement.
Q: Are there any additional thoughts or comments you would like to share with our readers?
In a world that is constantly changing and upheavel is seen on the front page of every news story….never forget to put your life into the hands of our unchanging God. We can trust Him even when the whole world seems to be falling apart.
Copyright 2014 Lisa M. Hendey