Strong Women Wednesday – Deb Pokel
I first met Deb Pokel many years ago. She signed up for personal training at a studio I used to work at. There was always something I really liked about Deb. Her presence was comforting and she always worked really hard. I admired her dedication and perseverance to fitness. We have stayed in touch through Facebook, but even through news feeds and random messages here and there you still never really get to know someone’s heart. I’m overjoyed that she agreed to be interviewed because her heart for Jesus shines through. Her answers moved me to tears. I’m honored to be able to introduce you to her today. Meet my friend Deb!
KE: Tell me about yourself
DP: I have four children: two adult kids, two boys ages twelve and fourteen, and I have three grandsons. I am married to Mike, who has more patience than any human on the planet, as evidenced by the fact that he is married to me!
My background is in sales and marketing with a career in employee benefits consulting. I have been a stay-at-home mom for twelve years, I am a student at Concordia University in Mequon, and have a passion for all people. I enjoy volunteering at church, my kids’ school, and other various ministries.
KE: How do you define strength and what does it look like in your life?
DP: For me, strength means standing in the gap with prayer and when appropriate, action, for those who are not able to stand on their own. At times, I am the person who needs someone to stand for me. I ALWAYS need God to be my strength. In my life, strength has meant raising my older kids as a single parent, starting a business when it didn’t make any sense except that I knew taking risks was what I was created to do, and currently, strength is knowing when to hold back and not be the person at the forefront of every event, activity, or ministry. Sometimes being strong means that you need to humble yourself and get your hands dirty, and your heart committed.
KE: As you know, strong faith is the focus of my ministry. But it can be hard to maintain a strong faith when life gets real messy. What do you do to keep your relationship with Jesus as strong as possible?
DP: My relationship with Jesus is the key to getting through the messiness of life. I have lived a lot in 50 years, and as I take time to reflect on my earthly life so far, I realize that when I was desperate, lonely, anxious, or afraid, it was my faith that got me through it all. In addition to daily prayer, I pray with others moms and friends weekly, attend group Bible studies, read daily devotionals, and cry out to God on a regular basis. Studying God’s word and surrounding myself with prayer warriors has bolstered my faith and increased my relationship with Jesus.
KE: Managing a household is hard. Whether you work, stay home, are single, married or have 8 kids; women often feel like they are just surviving each day. What advice would you give to women to help them strengthen their family?
DP: Let the little stuff go. I spent years fretting over how clean my house was (or wasn’t) and now I know that a little dust, or a few dirty dishes are not as important as a good night’s sleep or reading just one more bedtime story. When your husband wants to have some time alone with you, don’t decline his invitation because of your to-do list, or a desire to get to bed a little early. Say “yes” to him as often as you can! Also, don’t pass up an offer of help. If your husband, mother-in-law, or neighbor offers to bring you a meal, fold your laundry, or mow the lawn…just say, “THANK YOU!
KE: Depending on your definition of strength, “strong body” can mean something different to everyone. What healthy habits do you incorporate into your daily schedule to help keep your body strong?
DP: I have been a lifelong lover of fitness because I have made it a priority in my life and believe that the time I spent staying fit in my youth and early adulthood is responsible for my good health in my middle age. Getting up 30 or 45 minutes early to get a workout in before my kids are up has made a big difference in my life. I enjoy mixed martial arts workouts, walking my dog, stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, and cross-country skiing. For me, getting outside almost every day, regardless of the weather, helps to keep my body and spirit strong.
KE: What do you feel is the difference between relying on your own strength and relying on God’s strength?
DP: Relying on my own strength = failure. Relying on God’s strength = success. I have had many experiences throughout my life when I have tried to manage a trial on my own. In contrast, when I give God control over the situation, His will is done and although the outcome is often different than what I anticipated, I can see God’s plan for my life unfolding in a unique and beautiful way.
KE: Would you mind sharing something you have struggled with and telling us how you used God’s strength to get you through?
DP: One of the biggest issues that I have struggled with is marriage. I was married, had two children, and was divorced in my twenties. After six years as a single parent, I remarried and naively believed that this time would be different. The fact is that remarriages are especially tough because of the history that comes into the blended family. I have come to realize that every marriage has struggles. If you hear of someone who doesn’t have any marital challenges, they are either newlyweds or liars. But the good news is that I have come to be thankful for the hard times because without them, I would not be a prayer warrior, I would not have learned how to stand and fight for the health of my marriage, nor would I be able to share the reality (good and bad) of what marriage is all about.
KE: If you could share one message with every woman who is willing to listen, what would it be?
DP: If you have not kicked the tires on a relationship with Jesus, please do! Ask a trusted friend, contact a church, or reach out to me or Kristen. Life is filled with joy and sorrow, peace and turmoil, trials and rewards. But when your faith in Jesus is the hub of your life and all the other relationships, jobs, and issues are spokes stemming from Jesus, you will experience the grace and peace to navigate life with the One who is with you always.
KE: Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
DP: I love foster kids! I love foster parents! Everyone can do something. Make a meal for a foster family, donate money or clothing or toys. Offer to babysit so foster parents can have a date night or go to the store without bringing the kids. Become a foster parent or grandparent. Check with your county social services program, your church, or http://www.onehope27.org
I hope you enjoyed getting to know Deb’s heart as much as I have. Join me again next week as I have the opportunity to interview Carrie Reichartz. Carrie is a speaker, author and attorney who’s heart is in Kenya. If you know a women who would be open to being featured on a Wednesday blog post, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
In His Strength,