Why you want to know Debbie Eckert: A businesswoman of more than 30 years, Debbie was inspired several years ago to be more outward in her faith, completing the diocese’s spiritual direction training and being a fixture of Cursillo, Magnificat ministry and Charismatic Catholic activities. Today she gives talks on her faith journey and is working on a book, “Hairspray, Holy Water and the Healing Hand of God.”
Parish: St. Joseph Church
Family: Husband of 44 years Ken; four children; and nine grandchildren
IN HER OWN WORDS
What feeds you spiritually?
Daily Mass, spiritual direction and quiet time with the Lord are what feed me.
You’re a cradle Catholic. What in your life gave you this zeal for evangelization?
I’ve been doing hair since 1973 (and) for 37 of those years with my own salon Debbie’s Hair Productions. My friends call it Debbie’s Hair and Prayer. I loved it from the get-go; my personality is such that I love people. For the first, probably 10 years or so of my career, I was caught up in becoming the best hairstylist I could be and was really just in there to make money. In the mid-1980s, Kenny and I signed up for Renew, an old program in the diocese, small groups, faith sharing. At that same time, I started going to a Protestant Bible study. We didn’t have anything at St. Joseph’s at that time.
It was in Bible Study Fellowship that I heard this particular Scripture verse, “But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father,” (Matthew 10:33). I was really convicted that day that I could not share my faith, that I couldn’t really say the name of Jesus, without being scared.
Was it difficult to introduce Jesus into the conversation at work?
I really needed to pray for boldness to be able to do that. I very simply bowed my head that day and I said, “Lord, please let me be bold for you and witness for you.” I went back to the salon and in a short time, little by little, I was able to witness a bit. It got easier and easier. It became a fire in my soul that I needed to talk about my faith, pray with people. Now it’s second nature.
Have you had any negative reactions along the way?
To be honest I don’t know of anyone being turned off by it. People need Jesus so badly nowadays; they carry so many heavy crosses. I’m in a unique place where people tell me things they’ve not even told anyone but maybe their husband and sometimes not even that. It’s a sacred place to be.
How long have you been doing public speaking?
It started back in the 1980s with Cursillo. There was a period of six years when I was the director for the Cursillo program for the diocese. That was a wonderful time.
So now, between public talks, working in various ministries and your salon, where do you get the energy and inspiration to keep it all going?
Actually, the day-to-day thing I do is quiet time with the Lord, just learning to not be talking the whole time and learning to have that posture of listening and stillness. I love silent retreats; when I need to recharge, I go on an eight-day silent retreat, usually once every other year. That is so powerful. So yes, I cherish that, but then I also love attending our Charismatic Conference every year. I guess I’ve learned to rotate my clock to where I can have both of those in my life. Together, they’ve made me whole, I guess.
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