Just Around the Next Bend

by Pam Farrel

Do all things without grumbling or disputing… Philippians 2:14

As Covid lingers on, I sometimes pause to reflect on the life lessons that God pre-planned for all our lives. It can help us navigate this pandemic that appears to have no end in sight. 

 As youth ministers, we led a bike trip from Northern California, along the ocean to Santa Barbara. The scenery was breath-takingly beautiful, but rigorous: a series of rolling mountains that escalated ever higher and steeper in elevation.  We leaders knew this could be quite physically challenging to most of the students, so we designed shirts to have the week’s motivational motto on the back and shoulders, so the cyclists could see it bold before them on the rider in front of them:  

Nothing’s too tough to make me complain!

That phrase capsulized Paul’s command: “Do all things without grumbling or disputing that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2: 14-15 ESV).

The best way to integrate truth is to live it out. However, while reading a verse is easy, living a verse can be  HARD!

On this arduous bike trip, I was hot, weary, and faint, (but NOT complaining out loud!).  My repeated question to my co-leader spouse was, “How close are we to the finish?”

With optimism, Bill, would reply, “Closer than it was. Perhaps just around the next bend.”  Then we would sing some worship song as we peddled up, up the endless steep grade. Finally, at the mountain peak we paused for a majestic moment, with a bird’s eye view of the ocean stretching out, wrapping us in 180 degree beauty. Sweet victory!

But my most lasting inspiration of this trip was forged by a few of the students. Before one of the narrower bridges, we loaded the bikers on the bus and their bikes in a trailer a truck was pulling. The trailer came unhooked from the truck and banged into the guard rail sending three bikes and a couple suitcases over the rail, down into the Pacific Ocean—never to be seen again!

The amazing attitude of these three teens was stellar! They DID NOT COMPLAIN! Most adults would have caved and whined but not these three brave hearts!  One of the reasons they were able to keep hold of their positive attitude in face of this unexpected loss was all the rest of the youth group swiftly rallied to meet their needs. There were just over 50 teens on this “Nothing’s Too Tough to Make ME Complain” tour—and the vast majority are still walking with Jesus faithfully now forty years later. Today more than 75% of that group hold leadership positions in churches, community groups, mission organizations, pastors, counselors, government officials, and non-profit leaders. We were all transformed by this stalwart commitment to praise instead of pout.

Years later, we began our family, and vowed to raise children who could maintain a sense of strength and courage no matter what life might send their way. We hung a six-foot wooden sign carved into it; “Though shalt not whine”.  If the boys were tempted to moan and whine over chores, mere inconveniences, or minor setbacks, we just pointed to the sign. When real pressures and traumas entered their lives, we would gather as a family to pray Scripture over that son often under that same sign.  We would acknowledge feelings, process them with an attitude of faith, then stand strong on the promises of the Word. The boys took this “Can do” attitude into their futures. Now as leaders of their families and communities, these young men help others cultivate an attitude of gratitude.

Begin your own Powerful Praise journal. Note verses that have carried you in the past, turn them into memes, verses to study deeper, and Bible art to help you navigate your future LOOKING AT WHAT YOU can DO, NOT WHAT YOU CAN’T.  I daily remind myself, as I reflect on God’s faithfulness in the past, meditate on His promises, God will be the power to keep peddling forward.

About the author: Pam Farrel is the Co-Director of Love-Wise, author of 50+ books and co-author of the Discovering the Bible Creative Bible Study series. Go to Love-Wise.com to download your free 30 Day Infectious Joy Bible devotional .

Join the conversation: How do you keep from complaining?

He Loves Ewe!

by Pam Farrel

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in need. Psalm 23:1 NASB

I am a true Bo Peep. I grew up on a Suffolk sheep farm in Idaho. So when I read Psalm 23, it is personal, encouraging, and comforting. Like most of the world, you may also need comfort or encouragement in your own life right now. There are a few qualities of your Good Shepherd that might encourage you, especially if you are feeling like you are traveling through the “valley of the shadow of death”.

The Shepherd is Personal

The Psalmist declares “the Lord is my shepherd” because the relationship between a lamb and a Shepherd can be close and compassionate. My first 4-H lamb was a “bummer”, meaning the mother had rejected or abandoned her own offspring. These kinds of lambs need extra attention, so I fed my little lambie with a bottle twice a day, holding her in my arms like a baby. I carded her wool, I hand feed her grain, I walked her, and yes, I talked to her. On cold nights, I tucked her into a warm pen, and if I heard howling coyotes, I got up and went out to check on her. I also named her, “Bunny” because when she was not in my arms, she would delight herself jumping from rock to rock in our pasture. Ours was an “everywhere that Pammy went her lamb was sure to go” kind of relationship.

The Shepherd is a Protector

I picture my granddad and brother as a definition of a protective good shepherd. Ravenous coyotes, wolves and wild dogs roamed the high desert of our family farm. These savage animals would attack and kill whole flocks of sheep in a single night. To keep our sheep safe, we armed them with bells collars. If we heard an occasional gentle chime, our sheep were grazing calmly but if we heard a cacophony of loud jingling, we knew the wild dogs were near by threatening an attack.

To protect the sheep, the men in my family would post themselves in the pasture with the sheep. They would wrap themselves in a down sleeping bag with their “rod and staff” within arm’s reach. It was a cold, uncomfortable, thankless job, but it saved the lives of the entire flock. To this day, when I picture my God as my Good Shepherd, I see him as my strong, powerful, and attentive protector.

The Shepherd is a Provider

When I read, “He makes me lie down in green pastures.  He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul,” that is my upbringing. I would often walk barefoot through the deep, lush, green grass of the pasture, as the sheep serenely grazed. I would take a blanket, a Bible, and lie down to spend quiet hours communing with God. I might walk over to the creek and sit on the simple wooden plank to rest quietly, dipping my toes into the cool stream. This was my place of solace and restoration, far away from the chaos that my alcoholic, raging, earthly father might be creating at home.  To this day, an open meadow, or trickling brook, reminds me of the restorative presence of the Good Shepherd, even in the midst of chaos.  

The Shepherd Is a Pursuer

As I have followed my Good Shepherd, I have seen how “goodness and mercy “has surely followed me the days of my life.  One could phrase the meaning of “goodness and mercy” as “certainly what is good, pleasant, agreeable, beneficial, desirable, beautiful and best as well as God’s faithful, loyal, lovingkindness will pursue you.” Wow! Our Good shepherd pursues us to give his faithful love and all things beautiful and beneficial. 

With the Shepherd, we can walk THROUGH the darkest valley and not tremble, because the Good Shepherd sees, knows, cares, and prepares hope and help for each and every one of his sheep…including you!

Find a wool blanket, spread it on some green grass, near some still water, (or a comfortable, cozy space) then open your Bible to let the Great Shepherd send some goodness and mercy your way.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

pam ferrel

About the author: Pam Farrel is still a shepherdess at heart, however instead of living on her family farm, she now shepherds people’s hearts and relationships by speaking and teaching God’s goodness and mercy as Co-Director of Love-Wise. She is the author of 52 books including Discovering Hope in the Psalms: A Creative Bible Study Experience.

Pam and Bill are the bestselling authors of Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti (and small group DVD series); Single Men Are Like Waffles, Single Women Are Like Spaghettiand the teen version: Guys are Waffles, Girls are Spaghetti.

Join the conversation: What other metaphors in Scripture about God bring you joy?

A Love that Lasts

by Pam Farrel

We recently celebrated our 40th anniversary. As a gift, our grown sons and daughter in laws, along with our five grandchildren, all contributed to a book they wrote on “40 Reasons We Value Your Lasting Love”.

Here are a few of our favorites, along with four vital choices we made, and we recommend so that you too can gain a lasting lifetime love! 

Sit Face 2 Face 

We love because He [God] first loved us 1 John 4:19 NIV 

This verse was inscribed on our wedding gifts to each other. We knew going in, we would only succeed at long lasting love if God was kept front and center as the glue to hold us together. One of the less glamourous but most vital choices we made early in our marriage was to create a Marriage & Family Compass. This includes:

Marriage/Family Mission Statement– We penned ours about two years into our marriage inspired by a marriage conference for seminary students lead by Dr Norm T Wright. 

Marriage/ Family Motto– We wanted a short phrase like you’d see on a coffee mug or T-shirt. Ours is “Those who honor God, God honors”, based on 1 Samuel 2:30. 

Marriage/Family Moniker– This is a family crest. Ours has 3 L’s that stand for Leaner, Leader, who Loves God (what we prayed our children would grow into) Two hearts that stand for Farrels keep their promises, especially in marriage; and a cross with a star symbolizing that when you have a vibrant relationship with God, He ignites the God-given passion inside and you will “let your light shine” for God. 

We also made a commitment to have a weekly “Monday Morning Marriage Meeting” where we pray, then discuss things like money, calendar items, work, family, finances, delegate tasks, make decisions together, etc.—the important business issues of a marriage.  The Marriage Meet Up and the Family Compass were vital because we both came from very dysfunctional chaotic homes, we needed to be proactive and positive. 

Walk Hand 2 Hand

I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. 3 John 1:2 NIV 

An obvious tip on gaining a long-lasting love is you must live longer and stronger by treating your body (and your mate’s) as “a temple of the Holy Spirit.”  (1 Corinthians 6:19) Because we were both athletes when we met at age 19, and married at age 20, keeping active is a part of our love life.  We have always enjoyed a daily prayer walk, hand in hand. We have supported each other’s exercise pursuits, but the real key is finding some activities you BOTH enjoy doing together. Some of our favorites are kayaking, paddle boarding, jet skiing, biking, swimming, and dancing under the stars—or while waiting for an elevator! 

Hug Heart 2 Heart  

I found the one my heart loves. I held him and would not let him go… Song of Songs 3:4 NIV 

We have cultivated romance. We kiss each other EVERY TIME we say grace. We put weekly date nights, a monthly day away, and twice a year over night getaways on our calendar FIRST!  We even schedule “Red Hot Monogamy”!   

Bow Knee 2 Knee 

You will pray to him, and he will hear you, and you will fulfill your vows.  Job 22:27 NIV

Prayer was a part of our relationship from the first moment that Bill first asked me out on our first date! We pray for one another and with one another. We pray, hug and kiss, when we greet and when we depart from each other. We pray over meals, over decisions, over family and friends, and over our failures and frailties. We wrap up in each other’s arms each night and pray and thank God for each other and one more day together. 

Do you have hopes and dreams for your marriage? I remember a drive together as a newly engaged couple when one of us said, “We are years away from starting a family, but what will we want our kids to say about us on our 25th or 50th wedding anniversary?” We made a verbal list, then we prayed and asked God to fulfill those hearts desires—and He is!  

What new habits or activities do you want to add into your marriage, your family to secure the future God longs to give you? 

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Pam Farrel and her husband Bill are international speakers, relationship specialists, and authors of over 50 books including bestselling Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti, 10 Best Decisions a Couple Can Make (which explains how couples can create their own Family Compass: Mission, Motto, Moniker), Red Hot Monogamy (with more than 200 romance ideas).

Their latest book is Marriage Meet Ups: A Planner for Couples Who Want a Productive, Passionate and Purposeful Life. Nurture your relationship and create more time for the happy-side of marriage, romance, and intimacy. Get and stay on the same page so you can move forward TOGETHER in unity. Strengthen your spiritual life together and draw closer to God and your partner.

Join the conversation: What do you do to keep your marriage strong?

Caring for the Elderly: Whose Home?

by Pam Farrel @PamFarrel

In everything, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the prophets. Matthew 7:12 NASB

According to an AARP study, an estimated 43.5 million adults in the United States have provided unpaid care to an adult or a child in the prior 12 months (about 18% of the population.)  In six out of ten cases, the reason for the care is a long- term issue and not a short- term recovery situation.  I am in this caregiving situation right now as I write this article.

Proverbs 16:31 remind of the value of the elderly: “Gray hair is a crown of glory…”

Ephesians 6:2 echoes the Old Testament command to “honor your father and mother”.

When you find yourself in a “someone has to move” in order to keep the one you love safe and well cared for, here are a few questions to begin the discussion:

What are the desires of each party? (What do the aging parent(s) and the caregiving child and their spouse hope to have happen?)  It is important to have these conversations to listen to the heart of each side of the equation. Many families welcome the aging parents into their homes, often because they already have a strong close bond and relationship. If children are still in that home, then it is prudent to ask if the children can manage the stress of adding an aging member to the household. If you are already caring for a special needs child, have a mate deployed, or are dealing with a prodigal child, pray through what it means to bring a family member who needs care into your home.  Consider if your marriage will survive your role as caregiver.

What is the financial situation of the aging parent? What is the financial situation of the care giver’s family?

In some cases, the parent has planned ahead and has agreed to a move to a graduated care facility where they begin in an apartment with a little oversight from trained professionals, with the ability to graduate up to increasing oversight, care and meals, and finally up to a skilled nursing facility. These facilities are often very nice but can be very expensive – and if this type of care is selected, someone must foot the bill.

What move would keep the caregiver healthier?

Caregiving is rigorous. Initially nearly 50% of caregivers describe themselves as in strong physical health, but those who have been the caregiver for more than 5 years, only 20% describe themselves as healthy and strong. In some families, the children rotate in to help a parent who is staying in his or her original home, other times, it is mom or dad that travels to various relatives so the caregiving is shared.  The health of the aging parent is a major factor in these decisions, but the health of those extending care needs to be taken into consideration as well.

Who moved?

In our case, Bill’s dad is frail in body and his mom is frail in mind.  We knew Bill’s dad would be easy to integrate into our life and home. Bill’s mother on the other hand, refuses to move—or even talk about moving. Because our ministry of writing and speaking means we can live most anywhere, we moved near his folks to offer daily help.  However, what we have learned from other care giving friends who have gone before, each day is a new day, and God will lead step by step along the way.

TWEETABLE
Caring for the Elderly: Whose Home? – insight and wisdom from @PamFarrel on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

pam ferrel


About the author
Pam Farrel. author of 50+ books, is an international speaker and co-director (with her husband, Bill) of Love-Wise.comHer newest book is Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament: A Creative Bible Study Experience (co-authors Jean E Jones and Karl Dornacher) from Harvest House.

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Pam and Bill are the bestselling authors of Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti(and small group DVD series); Single Men Are Like Waffles, Single Women Are Like Spaghettiand the teen version: Guys are Waffles, Girls are Spaghetti.

Join the conversation: Are you in the middle of elderly care? Please share any tips you can give us!

 


The Garden

by Pam Farrel @PamFarrel

Let us make man in our image, in our likeness…So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:26-27

It was God’s plan to make us different from each other from the moment he imagined us. He designed estrogen and testosterone and God knew just how that would play out in a relationship. Those differences were by design and for a good reason, to complement each other.

But sometimes those differences are a quandary to our mate.  When we moved to San Diego, we had a desire to be a light of love to our community. Because both of us were athletes, volunteering in youth sports was a natural place to begin. Bill served as the President of the youth basketball league for eight years and one day at the gym one the dads walked up to him and said, “I think something is wrong with my wife. I think she might be broken. Can we come in and see you?”

When they arrived, the husband turned to his wife and said, “Go ahead” which seemed to be a green light to begin talking. She began jumping from topic to topic to topic, and the husband looked at Bill with a panicked gaze and said, “She does this all the time.”

Bill, knowing social scientists explain the way women interact with life as “integration”, meaning everything connects to everything else, said, “Just think of her mind like a plate of spaghetti. If you look at a plate of spaghetti and follow one noodle around that plate, it looks like it touches every other noodle. She is traveling through her life connecting it to you. Because of this, women are natural multi-taskers.“  Bill taught the husband some listening skills, and his wife talked for 55 straight minutes. Then she sat back and sighed. With a smile she said, “That was great! If I am like spaghetti, then what is he like?”

“Oh, that will be next week,” Bill replied, because he wasn’t quite sure how he was going to explain how her husband compartmentalized things to easily grasp and integrate them into his life. He began to pray for a food illustration that would depict this. One morning our sons were making toaster waffles and up popped a waffle. Bill immediately thought, “Compartments!”

When the couple returned, Bill explained that men are like waffles because they think of one thing at a time. Each issue mentally goes into its own box or compartment. Because of this, men by nature are problem solvers. They like to go into a box, figure out the problem, apply a solution, then move on.  The husband had an issue that he had tried to solve with his wife for years, and that day Bill was the compartment police. Anytime the wife wanted to hop to a different box, he would bring her back to the original topic. That day they finally solved the issue.

Bill came home and said, “Pam, today I used an illustration in a counseling appointment and it really seemed to help a couple. Then Bill detailed to me how men are like waffles, and women are like spaghetti. I replied, “It is a little corny, but if it worked, then I trust you, and I trust God. Yes, let’s use it at the conference we are teaching.”

Now, Men are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti, has sold nearly 400, 000 copies and has been translated into more than 15 languages. We are sure the main reason why so many people seem to connect to the word picture is that it takes couples back to the garden. As we go back to the way God designed us, male and female, to value and appreciate the differences, we can learn to use our differences in all of our relationships.

Lord, help each of us show visible expressions of appreciation for the way you wired us. Amen  

TWEETABLE
The Garden – insight from @PamFarrel on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

pam ferrelAbout the authorPam Farrel. author of 50+ books, is an international speaker and co-director, with her husband, Bill of Love-Wise.comHer newest book is Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament: A Creative Bible Study Experience (co-authors Jean E Jones and Karl Dornacher) from Harvest House.

Pam and Bill are the bestselling authors of Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti(and small group DVD series); Single Men Are Like Waffles, Single Women Are Like Spaghetti; and the teen version: Guys are Waffles, Girls are Spaghetti.

Join the conversation: Do you see differences in how God designed you and your spouse?

Impossible Faith: Powerful Provider

by Pam Farrel @PamFarrel

 He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever. Psalm 111:5

One of the prayers I often pray is Lord we look to You for your power, protection, and provision. I know we can ask this because God offers his character to back up his promises.

My favorite name of God is Jehovah Jireh, meaning “the one who will see to it.” When God provided a lamb for Abraham’s sacrifice on Mt. Moriah, rescuing his son Isaac from death, Abraham called that place Jehovah Jireh: the Lord will provide (Genesis 22:14). He not only provides for us in the present but will provide in the future as well. It is a part of His character.

And if God sees, he also foresees. In Names of God, Nathan Stone writes: “As the One who possesses eternal wisdom and knowledge, He knows the end from the beginning. As Elohim, He is all knowing, all-wise, and all-powerful. From eternity to eternity He forsees everything. But another word for seeing is vision, from the Latin word video—to see. So, it’s like God has the video for your life! Not only does he have the video, he is the director!”

Our actions in life directly reflect our view of God: A.W. Tozer says in his classic book, The Knowledge of the Holy, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”

What we think about God will determine how willing we are to step out in faith. Abraham knew God keeps His promises. Hebrews 11 tells us God had previously told him, “In Isaac, your descendants shall be called.” Abraham knew God was able to raise people even from the dead. So, he willingly walked Isaac up that mountain, fully expecting God to keep His promises.

And in doing so, Abraham discovered another character trait of God: that the Lord was Jehovah Jireh. The God who provides.

Henry Blackaby and Claude King agree. In Experiencing God, they write, “How I live my life is a testimony of what I believe about God.”

I like to say, “Show me your God, and I will show you your ability to achieve. Small God—small life. Big God—big opportunities and potential await.” His character never changes. We can trust Him for provision because He is the God who provides.

God has never let us down. We married young and followed hard after God to complete our education and go to seminary, all while working in a ministry with the youth. And God unfailingly met our needs. He sent groceries when our cupboards were bare. He sent a car for under $100, after we rode bikes for a year. He sent supportive families to contribute toward our seminary education, because they were thankful we were shepherding their teens. He sent wise mentors to help us think through the buying of our home, and faithful families who jumped in and helped build the one we built when we moved into the senior pastorate.

God provided every step of the way, both in small and large ways. We worked hard, yes, very hard. But when our compensation fell short in providing for our needs, He moved circumstances or the hearts of people to accomplish many answers to prayer—in ways that were pretty miraculous.

God does not change. He will always act in ways that are consistent with His character. He will always be Jehovah Jireh: the God who will provide. You can trust Him to do that for you. His actions will always be within the context of His grace. “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11 NASB).

TWEETABLE
Impossible Faith: Powerful Provider – insight and encouragement from @PamFarrel on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

pam ferrelAbout the authorPam Farrel. author of 50+ books, is an international speaker and co-director, with her husband, Bill of Love-Wise.comHer newest book is Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament: A Creative Bible Study Experience (co-authors Jean E Jones and Karl Dornacher) from Harvest House.

Join the conversation: How has God provided for you recently?

Joy! The Pathway to Peace

by Pam Farrel @PamFarrel

If there were a power verse for joy, it would be this one:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, rejoice. Philippians 4:4 ESV

When doing a word study on rejoice, I found this meant: REJOICE (lean in and delight in God’s grace) at ALL times, I repeat, REJOICE (choose to be glad and joyful because of ALL God gives us)!

What a command! But God gives the “How how-to” in verses 6-7.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ESV

God doesn’t want us to be anxious, worried, and loaded down with cares. As we ask, request, and petition God, the confidence comes in believing we are giving the circumstance to the only One who has the real power to answer—the Almighty God—the King of Kings! And as we make this transaction, God gives us a gift back—peace that is beyond comprehension!

This week, use this joy builder: pray over worrisome situations using a name of God. Here is a favorite exercise I use for releasing anxiety and to imagine this exchange of our worries for his peace:

Imagine your greatest stress is placed into your right hand, wrap your fingers around this anxiety, now lift it heavenward; open your fingers and present it at the foot of the throne of heaven. Leave your care there but keep your hand open. Now think of all the traits and names of God, which name of God would be best to hang your heart on to find hope, joy, and peace. If you struggle to pick which trait, choose the name or trait of God that would be opposite of your stress. For example, if you care is your anxiety, trade it for the peace of God, then when you get home, look up all the verses about God being peace and giving peace. String your favorite verses together, put your name in the series of verses, and personalize God’s Word to your life.

To keep the peace, Paul’s last instruction is to guard your mind and thought life—keep doing this—and the God of peace will be with you:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9 ESV

Now dwell on these things, all day, every day. And start each day and each season of life willing to give your greatest fear and anxiety to God and receive his radical peace.

TWEETABLE
Joy! The Pathway to Peace – insight from @PamFarrel on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

pam ferrelAbout the author: Pam Farrel is an author of 48 books, including Amazon bestseller Discovering  Hope in the Psalms: 7 Simple Skills for Every Woman and her newest book releases today (!!): Discovering Joy in Philippians:  A Creative Bible Study Experience (coauthored with Jean E Jones and Karla Dornacher). Pam and her husband, Bill are international speakers, relationship experts and  Co-directors of Love-Wise.

If difficult days have ever left you discouraged, Pam’s brand-new book: Discovering Joy in Philippians: A Creative Bible Study Experience, will help you engage creatively with God’s Word and establish habits that lead to greater joy and peace.

Join the conversation: What are your favorite names of God?

You Are Not Going to Like It

By Pam Farrel @PamFarrel

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.                                                                                                                                                1 Peter 4:8 NIV

I am an enthusiastic entrepreneur at heart. I take great joy in creating something from nothing and provide quality resources for others while simultaneously providing for my family.

When Bill was new in his senior pastor position at the age of 28, I was a mom at home completing my education. Tuition was stressing our already tight budget, so I attended a seminar on starting a business. The presenter was very persuasive. I bought the magic beans.

But on the way home, I began to feel convicted by the Holy Spirit. I had spent more than I should have; over a certain amount, we had agreed to decide as a team if this was how WE wanted to spend OUR money. I had violated that trust. I prayed for forgiveness and wisdom on the best way to tell my husband.

I walked in, and took Bill’s hand, looked him in the eyes, and with emotion said, “I have something to tell you, and you are not going to like it, but please tell me “I love you and we will get through this together.” As I confessed to my transgression to him, I could see Bill’s anger rising, but to his credit, through gritted teeth he said, “Pam, I love you, I forgive you, and we will get through this together.”

The mercy Bill gave me that day lodged deep in my heart, and my love for him grew even stronger.

Years later, my father passed away and left me an inheritance. Bill was offered “an incredible investment opportunity” by someone, and Bill talked me into investing my money toward our future needs.

Today people are more skeptical of investment advisers after so many financial fraud cases in recent memory. But our investment decision was before all that had happened.

One day, our adviser took our money and ran. Bill was horrified to learn it all was gone. But his biggest regret was talking me into investing it in the first place. My treasured inheritance from my father! He prayed about how to break the news.

Bill came home, took my hand, and with sorrow in his eyes, said, “Pam, I have something to tell you, and you are not going to like it, but I need you to tell me “I love you and we will get through this together”.  As I listened to his news, I remembered Bill’s grace and mercy for me those many years before. In spite of our loss, my heart pushed out the words, “Bill, I love you, I forgive you, and we will get through this together.”

Jesus told a parable about a slave who had a large debt graciously forgiven (Matthew 18:21-35). Soon after, he confronted a fellow slave who owed him significantly less than what his own debt had been. The slave was unable to pay, and the angry man had him thrown into prison. The slave’s owner, who had forgiven him, was furious when he heard. “I forgave you all [your] debt…Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way I had mercy on you?” (Matthew 18:32-33 NASB)

Jesus’ point: to refuse to forgive is an affront to the grace and mercy our Heavenly Father has given to us. What we have been forgiven should compel us to treat each other with the kind of generous mercy we enjoy from God.

After both of our bad financial decisions, we chose honesty and forgiveness over anger and strife. And because of that, we became stronger as a team. Grace, mercy and forgiveness create an environment where love can accumulate interest just like money in an investment account. In such a positive environment, a relationship can flourish emotionally and spiritually (and perhaps even financially), because you will be functioning as a team, learning to accept each other’s mistakes and moving on from them together.

Lord, we thank you for the grace and mercy you have given us. Help us in turn to give grace and mercy to cover each other’s imperfections. Amen.

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pam ferrelAbout the author: Pam and Bill Farrel are international speakers, authors of 46 books including A Couple’s Journey with God devotional and bestselling Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti. Together they run Love-Wise helping people with their most vital relationships. When they are not traveling for speaking, you will find them at home on their live-aboard boat docked in Southern California.

Join the conversation: How has offering forgiveness made a difference in your relationship? Please share!

I am Going to Out-Love You!

by Pam Farrel

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.                                                                              Mark 10:45 NASB

Jesus was a good son.  Bill and I recognize a good son, because we enjoy having three good sons.  A good son carries out the will of his father. A good son represents his family well and moves the family legacy forward. Good daughters do the same. Good daughters represent their family well.  We meet people each week and many of them are those who value the heritage that have been handed to them and build upon that solid foundation.

Within minutes of meeting John and Barb, we knew they had an unusual love. Barb found it easy to gush about how blessed and fortunate she found it to be married to John. John found it easy to compliment a wife he so obviously cherished. They have been married about the same amount of time as Bill and I, for over three decades! When I asked Barb the secret of their long lasting love, she said, “My husband forgives easily. He is full of grace, mercy and forgiveness.”

When we asked John the same question, his reply was similar, “My wife knows how to keep giving love when people are hard to love. She loves unconditionally and tenaciously.”  Notice it is really just two sides of the same coin: he loves without limits and she is limitless in her love.

They are the owners of Morning Star Dairy. They live in the home where John was raised. John had the privilege of watching his parents live a life of love. Love is a rich heritage on Morning Star Dairy.  John describes his mother as a saint who loved lavishly, never uttered a harsh word, and had a servant’s heart. Her heart of love was often expressed toward her husband as she darted about the kitchen waiting on him with an affectionately, “On the way, Daddy Baby”.

And that legacy of love continues as one will sometimes hear Barb call John, “Daddy” and with a twinkle in his eye and sheepish grin he will tease back, “That’s Daddy BABY to you.”

How does one go about building a legacy of love that passes from generation to generation? Follow John and Barb’s pattern and the example they followed in their parents and simply out-serve each another.

Love is an action verb and it is best expressed with a servant’s attitude.  What is a servant’s attitude?  Phil 2: captures it best when it simply says:

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,  not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant . . .”  (Phil 2:3-7 NIV).

Loving well is simply a matter of maintaining a “you first” attitude toward others. The plus side of having a servant’s attitude is that your children are watching.  Perhaps you will be laying a foundation of a family that all seek to out love the other!

Lord, help me not seek my own interests as the first priority but help me look out for my mate’s needs. Give me your same heart and attitude Jesus.  Help us lay a legacy of love. Amen   

pam ferrelAbout the author: Pam Farrel is the author of 45 books and the Co-Director of Love-Wise.com. She has been seeking to “out love”  her husband, Bill for 38 years of marriage. Discover resources to help you love well at www.Love-Wise.com

Join the conversation: How do you employ a “you first” attitude in your relationships?

Photo by Jose Escobar on Unsplash

Deep Roots

 by Pam Farrel

You might live in the part of the world known as Tornado Alley. Winds whip through, and trees that have shallow roots are tossed about like toothpicks. But trees with roots deeply embedded into the ground remain firmly anchored in place. It is the deeply rooted trees that survive storm after storm.

God challenges us to have another kind of deep roots:

They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”  Jeremiah 17:8 NIV

Jesus warns of the danger of shallow roots in the famous parable of the seed:

“Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow.  But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.”  Mark 4:5-6 NIV

This world needs more people, more marriages, and more families with deep spiritual roots. Strong individuals coupled together build strong marriages. Relationships like this provide stability for families, churches, and communities. But deep roots take a little effort to develop.

We run a ministry called Love-Wise, and couples often tell us, “We want a marriage like yours.” So we explain some of the choices we have made to grow a happy marriage. Good training is available through church attendance, a Sunday School class, or a small group where couples meet together to discuss relationships. Other opportunities for growth are in attending marriage conferences, listening to Christian radio, and other forms of media.

But the really rich work God does is in us as individuals. Spending daily time with Him is crucial to getting His guidance in becoming the best partner, parent, and person possible. Deep roots develop when it is just you and God dealing with your life, your relationship, and your heart. A media-only diet is like a tree with shallow roots. One big wind storm comes and it can topple the tree. Or one hot, scorching summer hits and shallow roots dry up and the plant dies. The best fruit, the sweet fruit, comes when the roots of the tree go deep down into the rich soil.

I join the Apostle Paul and pray for each of your marriages:

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,  and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (Eph 3:17-19 NIV)

 Lord, sink our roots deep into You and Your Word. Give us the sweet fruit that comes with deep roots built on the kind of love you can give. 

pam ferrelAbout the author: Pam Farrel is an international speaker, author of 45 books including best selling Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti and A Couple’s Journey with God. She and her husband, Bill, co-direct Love-Wise ministry.

Join the conversation: How have you built up your marriage?

Photo by Nikolas Noonan on Unsplash