A few months ago I had the honor of writing this article about a most inspiring woman for Chic Galleria. Enjoy... - Rita
When dire circumstances touch our lives the effects can be pervasive, can test areas of our lives we never quite imagined could be shaken. When Laurie Zieber’s husband was forced to close down his construction business, reducing his workforce from fourteen full-time employees plus subcontractors to just himself, neither she nor Dan, nor their children were prepared for the struggles that lie ahead.
On the day that we let our workforce go we had fourteen jobs that were incomplete. Our boys put their lives on hold, came home and helped Dan finish every single job.” For the next six months, the Ziebers lived without income. “We lost everything. We were so exhausted and felt so beat up, I was afraid we would not recover.”
Laurie began to seek a support system to help them cope. “There were plenty of avenues of support and mentoring for alcoholics, drug addicts, overeaters, for victims of domestic abuse, or people suffering from depression or anorexia. But the only things available to us were predatory bankruptcy attorneys and very simple consumer credit counseling programs.”
What Laurie never anticipated either was that these events would test her faith. “I was frustrated about my faith life. I’d been involved with the church my whole life, but there was no power in my faith life. So, I set out on a course to find out why.”She calls this time her “Search and Destroy Mission.”
“I set out to understand what and why I believe what I do. My childhood that was filled with opportunity; my environment was wholesome, principled, with many examples of high morals and integrity. Yet, somehow I missed that I was valuable amidst all my opportunity. A person who is not confident of their value often becomes self-absorbed and that can lead to a sense of entitlement. I believe that we need to live our lives transparently in front of each other, especially where our faith is concerned.”
As Laurie reflected on her family circumstances she realized that while she had lost so much, the one thing she had not forfeited was her integrity. “A true sense of value doesn’t come from one’s achievements. A deep assurance of value doesn’t demand that others recognize it. We often mistake the person with the title, who stands at the front of the room, the person with the loudest voice to be a positive leader. But leadership can be found throughout the various levels the workplace, the church, in schools, in our families. We all have opportunities to teach and opportunities to learn.”
Laurie founded Draw Away Retreats, a cross between a spa weekend and a spiritual quest. It’s a place for women to “get away from the noise in their lives so that they can hear God. Not what other people have to tell them about God, but to hear Him for themselves regarding their purpose and mission.” The retreats are limited to groups of twenty so that each woman may truly “draw away from their fast moving, me-focused world.”
In her quest to help women find their voice, Laurie refined her own skills and gifts for communication, teaching, encouragement, and leadership. Together with Lucinda “Lu” Wormsbaker, Laurie created the Blog Talk Radio show She Speaks To Inspire, a gathering place where women share their hopes and dreams, solutions and victories.
“All of the guests have been fascinating, but one story does stand out. A woman contacted me having listened to two of our shows: one on the Shiloh Home of Hope For Women in Emporia, Kansas which offers a home and an opportunity for women in crisis to change the direction of their lives; the second show featured Tracy Mallory Radford, who has multiple sclerosis. This listener had learned enough about MS symptoms to recognize that a homeless woman she knew was actually exhibiting MS symptoms. The shelters were forcing her, along with her 5-year-old daughter, back on the street because her MS was being mistaken for drug use. As a result, one woman with MS and her daughter now have an opportunity to be loved and valued by the women of Shiloh.”
So what does the future hold for Laurie Zieber? Her husband, Dan, recently purchased a small chapel in Dennison, Texas. The couple is renovating “The Little Chapel That Could” as a center for She Speaks To Inspire mentoring programs. They will offer volunteer mentor relationships to assist adult women who desire to “get out of debt, learn to play an instrument, find a better job, be a better parent, find a dream, or rekindle a forgotten dream.” The program will also bring writers together with schools, where volunteer writers will help kids learn to develop their imagination and learn how to write a story. “Volunteer artists will help the kids illustrate the story and the kids will learn by participating in the publishing process. We created a publishing company, DaZiL, specifically to publish books for kids by kids.”
In January 2010, Laurie will launch the She Speaks To Inspire Radio Network which, together with The Little Chapel, will host a series of expert mentor self-sufficiency training programs for adults wanting assistance with life skills issues such as finance, business start-up and development guidance, parenting, and work/life balance concerns. “Facebook folks can follow the development of this program on the She Speaks To Inspire Presents The Little Chapel That Could page.” She Speaks To Inspire can be heard live on Blog Talk Radio. (Check the web site for show time.) All shows are available in the archives at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/She-Speaks. To learn more about Laurie Zieber, visit her web site: http://www.lauriezieber.com.