No Matter What: A Q&A with Michele Howe

Now Featured in the Patheos Book Club
Burden Lifters:
Every Woman's Daily Guide to a Healthy, Happy Life
By Michele Howe

Michele Howe has worked with women and women's issues for years, and her writing has been featured in many national and international publications. As she travels and speaks, she has become increasingly aware of the stress that Christian women face -- from parenting to career choices to financial pressures and more. Women are asking: What do we hold on to steady ourselves when everything threatens to pull us under?

In Burden Lifters: Every Woman's Daily Guide to a Healthy, Happy Life, Michele Howe offers women of all walks of life a generous supply of buoyant, faith-full, healthy-living guidance for everyday life. Utilizing real examples of other women who have triumphed over hardship, hurts, and disappointment, Burden Lifters engages women's hearts and minds while teaching them to rely on the truth of God's Word.

As part of the Patheos Book Club on Burden Lifters, Michele talked with Patheos about the ways her experiences informed this book, how the lives of women today have changed, and where she finds her strength.

Were there any personal experiences or conversations that triggered your desire to write this book?

I started noticing a trend with the women I knew, the ones I interviewed, and from leading a small women's group -- these ladies were feeling utterly overwhelmed by the burdens in their lives. Most of them were facing multi-generational responsibilities, carrying for their children and their aging parents. Often their own health was being compromised by the stress of constant "giving" to others, and added to that was the realization that they couldn't fix their loved ones' problems. A weighty issue all around, something that could only be lifted by a renewed perspective on problems and on life in general.

In what ways do you think the challenges, disappointments, and burdens of women are different today than they were for our mothers' generation?

One obvious difference is that most people aren't living close to their relatives any longer, so the natural support system given from grandparents to parents to children doesn't exist. Add that fact to the high percentage of moms who now work fulltime outside of the home -- these women are juggling two fulltime loads of work and responsibility in one life! Eventually, something has to give, and again, the woman is generally the one who holds the emotions of the family together and tethers everyone's needs. Today's world is simply bigger and more complex, but I believe we can learn some important lessons from our grandparents' and parents' generations. Two words: slow down. Busyness is frequently the enemy of a rich and full life. Unlike what the media would have us believe, the good life isn't a 24/7 race to the top; it's much more meaningful as we adopt an other-oriented life view and purposefully take back our hours and days to create a balance of work/play/service/rest.

Your chapters cover the gamut from child-rearing to retirement issues. How would you describe the Christian spirituality that undergirds all these transitions?

No matter what season of life we find ourselves in, God is present. He is there, he is with us, and he is not in heaven wringing his hands in despair over the evil in this world. Christianity teaches us that God is sovereign and is with us in our trials. That doesn't mean he removes the hard times, because the truth is that we live in a broken, hard world. I always remember Jesus' words: "You will have trouble in this world, but I have overcome the world." What a promise of hope!

Where do you personally find your encouragement?

I find my comfort knowing that God has already charted out all my days, that he knows what I need even before I open my mouth to pray. That he is supremely good and desires to bless my life with good things, those being: peace, love, joy, strength, grace, and hope. I read about God's perfect provision through the book of Psalms where the writer expresses every emotion imaginable and then goes on to share how God rescued him in his troubles. Again, hope for every situation shines throughout the Bible.

What do you most hope readers take away from this book?

I want readers to discover firsthand that no matter how heavy their burden(s) are, God is able and so ready to offer relief. No matter what. No matter what their past is, what mistakes they've made, how much of a mess they've made of their life, nothing will stop God from getting to them if only they ask for help. God continues to surprise me daily with unexpected blessings in the very midst of my darkest storm. I know he is with me even though I can't "see" him. I've always appreciated that old saying, "Trust a certain God in an uncertain world."

Read an excerpt from Burden Lifters at the Patheos Book Club.

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