Debbie Eckert, a member of St. Joseph Church in Conway, displays her first book outside her salon in Conway. Eckert released “Hairspray, Holy Water and the Healing Hand of God” in May.
Debbie Eckert’s hands trembled as she stared at the flickering screen. It had been years since she first heard the Lord whispering to her to write a book and it had been a journey littered with doubt and hurdles. In her wildest dreams she never imagined herself an author or even someone that other people needed to hear. She was just Debbie, that joyful friend of Jesus, owner of a hair salon.
But all that was gone now and the book, “Hairspray, Holy Water and the Healing Hand of God” was just a keystroke away from becoming a reality. A deep breath, a murmured thank you and the mouse clicked softly.
“I cried for about three days when I hit the publish button,” she said. “I thought, ‘I can’t believe I’m finally here.’ Then when I saw it, it was a big sigh. I feel very overwhelmed with satisfaction that I was able to do that with the help of God, because it is a pretty big deal.”
“Hairspray, Holy Water and the Healing Hand of God” is rooted in Eckert’s multi-faceted life as daughter, mother, wife, business owner and Catholic and the myriad ways one or more of these facets impact and shape the others.
“The book is probably considered a memoir, but I don’t think of it that way,” she said. “I want to give people a little bit of an introduction to me as I grew. For example, I was raised on a farm and I used all the things that I learned on the farm. Like, fishing equals catching people; gardening and weeding equals rooting out sin. That was the introduction of the first chapter.”
“It kind of flowed from there. It does follow the stages of my life, but it’s stages of not just my life, but what God taught me in my life. It’s full of Scripture; every page has probably a verse or two on it.”
Eckert, a member of St. Joseph Church in Conway, heard the call to write the book in 2016 when she was hosting Catholic singer and speaker Kitty Cleveland in her home. Cleveland told her she should write, a suggestion Eckert immediately dismissed.
“Within probably a week to 10 days, I had three people private message me on Facebook randomly saying, ‘You should write a book.’ My husband had been saying that too and I’d always say, ‘I don’t know what I would write about,’” Eckert said. “Then I thought, maybe the Lord really is asking me to do it and I don’t usually say no to him. So I went out and bought a new laptop and stared at it.”
The finished product, which arrived in May, gives an unflinching look at the joys and challenges of a life not unlike anyone else’s, made whole by the saving grace of Jesus.
“It’s about family life, raising our four kids. We had a daughter that was pregnant out of marriage, and I wrote about that,” she said. “We had infertility issues. We had some very serious sickness issues. We had an open-heart surgery issue. I talk about how God grew me and grew them through those trials and different situations.”
Eckert turns the spotlight on herself, too, and is at her best when she looks to the mirror for her message. She writes about difficulty in her marriage over faith issues in ways that are both funny and poignant.
“My faith came alive through the Charismatic Conference and Bible study fellowship, but my husband Kenny was not coming along with me at the same speed,” she said. “That was a real burden in our marriage for a while, but we learned to overcome that. I needed to shut up and pray and quit pushing him, which is the truth.”
“I said it in the book, I’m not the Holy Spirit. Every woman wants her husband to be holy and lead and a lot of times that doesn’t happen and usually, we’re pushing and doing too much talking and not enough praying.”
Eckert, who’s already started her second book, hopes her homespun, plainspoken style makes her debut something people can relate to.
“My number-one hope is that it will help people, that something in there will touch somebody and help them grow somehow, some way,” she said. “I love to evangelize. I love to help people and this is a way that, hopefully, that will happen.”
“Hairspray, Holy Water and the Healing Hand of God,” is available on Amazon or at Eckert’s salon, Debbie’s Hair Productions in Conway, (501) 329-8809.
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