In the dance of life, faith offers a wealth of wisdom, guiding individuals through challenges and transformation. It is a light that shines in moments of doubt, a strength that sustains through trials, and a compass that directs towards a purpose greater than oneself. In this narrative of faith’s power, we encounter Michele Stoudt-Wright. Her journey to becoming an author, entrepreneur, life coach and associate pastor exemplifies the profound influence of devotion in shaping one’s destiny.
Photo Credit: Malekfoto Films
This story of faith is not just about belief in the divine but about self-discovery, personal growth, and the joyful pursuit of one’s true purpose. From her early achievements in business, handling billion-dollar deals, to her impactful roles as a Christian author, associate pastor, and life coach, Michele’s journey is a vivid testament to the power of religion in forging a life of meaning, purpose, and service.
Michele began her academic career with aspirations to become a doctor—a path much different from the one she would eventually take. Her road took a serendipitous turn, sparked by her German ancestry and a growing fascination with international law. This pivot led her to study economics and international business, eventually studying in Germany her senior year.
“I thought I was going to school to be a doctor, but in school, it turned out the sciences didn’t interest me as much as more business-related things. My ancestry is German, and I was interested in going to Germany to study, so I started taking international law.”
This experience was more than just an educational endeavor; it was a pioneering step, making Michele the first in her family to attend college and one of the first female students at Lehigh University during a time of significant social change.
“It was a time when there were a lot of firsts all around, and I was always looking to pioneer and push toward the extremes. I went to a very small high school, and there were only 400 students in the total high school, a little over 100 in my graduating class.”
Michele’s inherent competitiveness, a trait that would define much of her personal and professional life, initially found an outlet in sports when she was younger. Despite the limited opportunities for women in athletics beyond high school, she was undeterred, embodying a spirit of determination and a willingness to challenge norms.
“We did have women’s sports, but women’s sports beyond high school sports weren’t really there. If you wanted to do sports, you became a physical education teacher. I didn’t want to be a physical education teacher, but I loved sports. I loved competing.”
Her upbringing in a farming community, where a cow pasture was right across the street from her house, played a pivotal role in shaping her spirited nature. “The boys in the neighborhood would come and play softball and baseball. I’d go across the street and play with them. I was competitive even then.”
Michele carried this persevering spirit throughout her time in college and in Germany. Upon returning from Europe after graduation, Michele searched for a job with international opportunities. All the companies she spoke to told her she would have to work for years before securing any international post.
“And so, I found a job working in an accounting firm for a year as a clerk and realized I was more people-oriented. I didn’t want to just sit at a desk. I called that idea at the time ‘sitting with cobwebs around my elbows, just pushing numbers.’ I wanted something with more people, so I got a job working for Joseph E. Seagrams & Sons. I was a production supervisor on the bottling floor, and it was actually interesting.”
Eventually, she moved to Texas to work for Texas Instruments. The company’s defense sector was bought out by Raytheon, within which she went up through leadership and held increasingly more critical positions over the years. Her last position was serving as the staff executive for the vice president of contracts for the division. After that, she left to work for Airbus, where she was head of contracts for their helicopter corporation here in the United States. “Through working with Texas Instruments, Raytheon and Airbus, I traveled the world.”
There was another interesting shift in the late 90s in her career trajectory due to changes in defense spending. This led Michele to explore new avenues, including enrolling in Bible school and branching into entrepreneurship.
“During that time, there was a downsizing in the company, and I took a package. One of the opportunities of the package was to go to school to learn something else. I chose to go to Bible school. Within Bible school, I met a business partner. We put together a restaurant, which we kept open for a year. It was a restaurant, an art café and a coffee house.”
Michele and her husband would encourage Christian groups and young people to visit their restaurant, Square Coffee Pot, before deciding to close it down a year later.
Michele faced a great deal of financial hardship during this time since her husband worked in the service industry as a limousine driver, and travel had dipped down significantly after the 9-11 attacks, while Michele was on staff at a Church paid by love offerings and some part-time accounting bookkeeping. Income dried up, and the couple was on the verge of losing their home. Desperate for help, Michele prayed about her situation and put ministry on the altar. This meant asking God to open the door for her to walk through and not using her resources or manipulation to get a job.
“One of the directors I had worked for at Raytheon called me up and wanted to know if I wanted to do some consulting work for them. They were transitioning their contracting computer systems over to an SAP system. With an offer triple my booking rate by the hour, I said, sure, I could do that for a few weeks. On my first day on the job, I was asked to come back full-time. They gave me an offer I couldn’t refuse, so I went back to full-time work. It came with a promotion and increase above what I would have been making had I stayed. God is so good.”
Faith has been a constant companion and guiding force in Michele’s life. However, her path toward faith has not always been straightforward or easy.
“There was probably ten years of my life, through my 20s, that I was ‘little miss-independent’ and ran life my own way. God was behind me, but I was in front, making my own decisions. They weren’t necessarily the best decisions in the world. My life changed when I hit 30. Not because I hit 30, but because Jesus became the Lord of my life around that time period.”
She describes that period of her life as a crossroads where her faith truly deepened, and she recognized the need to prioritize spirituality or her love of the Lord. “You can do so much more under his power, his authority and his knowledge.”
“I had to realize that I could not live life without making God first in my life. I was playing sports a lot. I was partying a lot. I was drinking a lot. I just said, hey, listen, I can’t do this. I was trying to be perfect for everybody else. The harder you try sometimes, the more mistakes you make. It’s hard to explain, but when you give your life over to God, he has a way of opening doors you cannot open on your own. He has a way of strengthening you where you cannot strengthen yourself.”
She says studying the bible was a big part of her spiritual development.
“God started speaking to me in many ways and giving me answers, giving me a strong foundation to work with daily. The interesting thing is that I did end up joining a Baptist church. I was walking into church one day, and this small voice said, ‘You’re joining the church today.’ I was like, ‘I can’t join the church; I have this to fix or that to fix, and I have to stop doing this. I had a whole list of excuses. I felt as if there was a smile going on in the background saying, ‘You’ll see.’”
At the time, Michele had not joined the church but was in the church choir. That day, the voice that she heard in her head proved to be correct.
“After the first step I took into the choir loft, I just started crying crocodile tears. The presence of God was just all over me. I knew that that was the day I would turn my life over to Him and join the church.”
Michele’s spiritual journey led her to author “Top of the Morning to You, TOTM2U” a book of daily devotionals inspired by her belief that everyone should start every day with an encouraging word. She remembers her own struggles working in a high-pressure environment and how writing devotionals had helped her then.
“When working for Airbus, I led a group of about 30 people, putting together a proposal for the government to supply logistic support for the helicopters the army had bought. It was over a billion-dollar proposal. Many of the people on my team hadn’t worked on such a large proposal before. We were working under huge time pressure, lots of pressure. I was probably getting four hours of sleep a night, lots of stress. I needed an encouraging word. I had finished a daily online devotional. I was looking for another one. The still small voice inside me said, ‘Write one.’”
She asked God how she could do this with so little time and so much to do.
“I started remembering how I had studied while working for the church in my in-between times. I had studied on the heart of God. I studied on David, what made David special. David was a young boy. He made mistakes. He was a screw-up, just like me. The thing about him that made him special was that he had a heart after God’s own heart. I started studying the heart and the physical heart. Did you know that the physical heart is one of the first organs of the body to be made? It’s made up of different cells than other cells in the body, a cardiac myocyte or heart muscle cell. It starts out as a muscle cell like any other muscle cell. However, somehow spontaneously, one cell will start to beat. Then, another one of these cardiac cells will start to beat. They beat independently until they touch each other and join each other. Then they begin to beat together in a rhythm.”
She says that finding mutual peace through devotion can help us feel connected to one another, much like these cells that learn to beat together.
“Even people become more like-minded when you get into a rhythm and flow with each other. That’s what God wants in every one of our lives. Through His love for each one of us, he wants us to join him in his heart, compassion, and knowledge. There’s a flow. It was with this understanding that I started sending out textbook messages in the morning.”
Michele would get up every morning at 4:30 am and sit down for fifteen minutes to review and write about what she had studied in the years prior. She would then send out messages, starting first with five people.
“Some were going through life-changing events in their own lives. They needed an encouraging word just like I did. The first year, I did it every morning for 45 days. It was in February. February is National Heart Month. It was a good month to do it. Then I’d put it down. Over the course of five years, it grew into six months of devotionals that speak to your spirit, soul including mind, will, emotions, and body. It’s all connected, like a kinetic chain.”
Her insights into stress management, drawn from personal experience and research, underline the importance of positivity and mental well-being in navigating life’s challenges.
“In 2022, the American Psychological Association did work through the Harris Poll and set up surveys. They came out during that time, and almost 24% of the people that they surveyed were so stressed they could not function, which means they could not go to work. They could not take care of their families. They could not do basic things. They also did some research and found that one of the several things that helps to fight stress is to get rid of negative thoughts. And if you think about it, it’s like our mind resets at night every day. And we have this opportunity to start the day with a choice. We can be mad. We can be sad. We can be glad.”
Michele’s life coaching services extend her commitment to helping others address various challenges, including burnout, personal growth, and professional development. Her approach to coaching is deeply empathetic and insightful, driven by her experiences and keen understanding of human nature.
“What I like to do is sit down and talk to people and find out what’s really going on in their life. It could be in a business situation; it could be in a personal situation. So many people have been hurt, and when you’re hurt, you tend to hold things in and look inside. The more you look inside and hold things together, the more difficult it is to heal.”
Pulling on her years of experience in high-pressure positions, she also helps organizations figure out how to work more efficiently.
“For example, I’m now president of the Keep Rowlett Beautiful organization, which is an organization that is there for reuse and reduction—getting rid of trash responsibly. We are getting ready to go to the next level. We’ve been given five acres to put in an environmental learning center. So, I ask what needs to happen—our accounting needs to be fine-tuned, and our policies and procedures need to be in place. So, we just sit down and see where we are today and where we want to go. What do we need to get there? You can do that with individuals, and you can do that with corporations, large or small.”
She says that, ultimately, she coaches seekers.
“I coach people who want to go to the next level. They could be Christian, not Christian, or people who want to take their business to the next level. To coach someone, they must be interested in making a change, which means they’re asking questions and seeking answers.”
Michele speaks with a profound understanding of the interconnectedness of mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health. She emphasizes the detrimental effects of neglecting one’s mental and emotional well-being, highlighting how burnout can spiral into more severe health issues, and underscores the importance of addressing these challenges proactively.
“The body is so intricately intertwined. If we have burnout, it’ll affect our minds. ‘I’m too tired, I can’t do this.’ Then, after, your mind is like, ‘I just can’t handle this situation,’ it will affect your will. A person will say, ‘I’m not going to go to the market today or see my friends or go to the coffee shop; I’m just going to stay home.’ Then, it begins to affect your emotions and get to the point that it causes depression. It causes anxiety, and it causes fear, even a fear of going outside.”
Her insights into the cascading effects of untreated mental and emotional issues on one’s life and health are a call to action, urging individuals to seek appropriate support, whether it’s through spiritual means, professional counseling, or medical intervention.
“These types of things, like depression, fear, anxiety, if they’re not taken care of either by going through something like a daily devotional or in the case of extreme depression and things like that, which have to be handled medically, with the proper psychiatric or psychological means that are beyond my book—once it starts affecting you, it impacts other parts of the body. Stress causes heart disease. Stress causes stomach issues. It also causes physical imbalances, harming your body and the people around you.”
COVID exacerbated many of the psychological issues Americans have been facing, and fewer people began to pursue that kind of seeking and curiosity Michele encourages people to harness in their lives.
“Things changed after the pandemic. People are less outgoing and less likely to go to churches and work situations. There are so many people that are still working at home. It’s so important to have interactions with people face to face. And so, we are all learning how to come back out of ourselves. There are things that you can do in your community to get involved. It could be getting involved in a nonprofit organization, or a church or synagogue, whereby you can feed into the lives of the people around you.”
In her own life, she found that giving back to the community helped her grow immensely, both in her career and her devotion. Michele’s involvement in community service, particularly through her leadership in the Keep Rowlett Beautiful organization, exemplifies her dedication to social and environmental causes. This commitment not only reflects her desire to give back but also underscores her belief in the power of community engagement and the positive impact it can have on both individuals and society at large.
“It’s interesting because sometimes the more you give, the more you receive. There’s a parable of sowing and reaping. When you sow a seed, you don’t get one seed back. If you sow a kernel from an ear of corn, you don’t get a kernel back; you get multiple ears. There’s so much more than you could imagine that comes back to you. When we opened the coffee shop years ago, a number of young people visited who worked or were sons of the owner or had just come through. Several of the guys who worked for me are now pastors of large churches today and impacting the lives of many people. It is part of the rhythm and flow of the Spirit of God. I would never have thought these people would have changed their lives.”
Michele offers compassionate advice for individuals interested in exploring faith or seeking spiritual guidance, drawing from her own experiences and understanding of the welcoming nature of Christian communities. Her message is one of acceptance and encouragement, inviting people to explore spirituality in a space that respects and values them for who they are.
“If you have an interest in getting to know what the truth is, pray for God to open the door. There are churches that accept everybody and don’t push being perfect. God accepts each and every one of us right where we’re at. It’s not about who we are or what we’ve done. He just wants us just the way we are. That’s what’s really incredible about it.”
Michele’s reflections on the biblical story of David and Goliath offer a metaphorical perspective on confronting life’s challenges. Her personal practice of carrying smooth stones as symbols of confidence and strength is a unique expression of her faith and resilience, illustrating how personal beliefs and experiences can provide comfort and empowerment in difficult times.
“I used to do this thing when I was working. People didn’t know it, but I often had five smooth stones in my suit’s pockets. Sometimes, I would forget that they were there and whether I’d be in front of 50 or 100 people. I’d put my hand in my pocket and feel more confident because I had my stones. The stones, religion-wise, do not mean anything; there were no special powers in those stones, but they were meaningful to me.”
Her analogy of life’s experiences as smooth stones in our pouch encapsulates her philosophy of drawing strength and wisdom from our past experiences to face present and future challenges.
“Everything we do in our lives is like having five smooth stones in our pouch. They can be experiences of good things or experiences of bad things, but everything that we’ve done has given us all the strength and wisdom we need. All we have to do is pull out that special smooth stone in order to combat whatever comes our way.”
Michele’s recent ordination as an associate pastor is a culmination of years of serving in various capacities and reflects her deep commitment to her faith. Her journey is a testament to life’s unexpected paths and how embracing these turns can lead to fulfilling and meaningful experiences.
“I have been recently ordained within this last year, but I had been serving as a lay pastor, which means you’re not ordained, so you don’t do things like weddings or funerals. I prayed for people. I was part of the leadership of many churches through the years, but the opportunity to become ordained had never happened. Then, one day last year, I said, ‘Okay God, I don’t have to have the title of a pastor, and that’s okay; I’m doing the work, so whatever happens, happens.’ And it seemed like within a week or so, my talking to God or giving it up, I spoke to my pastor, and he asked if I had ever thought about becoming ordained or putting my papers in for ordination. And I thought, ‘Wow, this is funny.’”
In her role, Michele emphasizes the power of faith declarations and spiritual affirmations as tools for positive reinforcement. Her belief in the Biblical principles underlying these declarations is a reflection of her holistic approach to life, blending spiritual and secular perspectives for overall well-being.
“Make faith declarations. Faith declarations are encouraging words. They are things that you do that are based on the word of God, even when you don’t necessarily believe it. In the secular world, they call it the power of positive thinking. Everything in the secular world has a biblical basis, believe it or not, and it depends on how you look at it.”
Michele Stoudt-Wright’s story, rich in lessons of perseverance, adaptability, and spiritual depth, continues to inspire and guide others, whether through her writing, coaching, or pastoral work. Her life vividly illustrates how embracing change, nurturing faith, and committing to personal development can lead to a life of fulfillment, impact, and continuous discovery.
She shares an excerpt from her book, “Top of the Morning to You, TOTM2U,” The Heart Part 46 – Summary:
“As we bring this series to a close today, I have heard it said that, ‘It’s in the heart, the innermost recesses of the being that man is illumined, cleansed and renewed by attention to the word of God.’
It is about rhythm and flow in his presence… Jesus challenges us, ‘If you love, show it by doing what I told you.’ (John 14:10-11, (The Message Translation).
What will you do for him today? I give you my heart, oh Lord, to see your kingdom come, to see your will be done. Thump, thump, rest. Thump, thump, rest.
How do we get in his rhythm and flow, you may ask? Well, we start right now. We start individually – like a myocyte with a beat – and we become disciplined in establishing our reading of the word in praise, prayer and rest. God meets with us with the Holy Spirit, and we join with his rhythm and flow…
God has given us David’s heart. Are you ready to receive it?
‘And I have given to you a new heart, and a new spirit I give in your midst. And I have turned aside the heart of stone out of your flesh. And I have given to you a heart of flesh. And My Spirit I give in your midst, And I have done this, so that My statutes ye walk, And My judgments ye keep, and have done them.’ (Young’s Literal Translation, 1898). Selah.”
“Everything that I do is really for him and to work out the plans and purposes that he has for my life. It’s not for me personally; it’s what I can do in order to work the plans he has for me to advance his kingdom.”
Photo Credit: Malekfoto Films
Moumita Basuroychowdhury is a Contributing Reporter at The National Digest. After earning an economics degree at Cornell University, she moved to NYC to pursue her MFA in creative writing. She enjoys reporting on science, business and culture news. You can reach her at email@example.com.